Elon Musk’s transfer over the weekend to rebrand Twitter and exchange its iconic chook brand with an X is simply the most recent step in his effort to make over the billionaire’s longtime favourite platform in his picture.
When Musk purchased Twitter late final yr, he laid out a vision for an “all the pieces” app referred to as X, the place customers may talk, store, eat leisure and extra. Final June — previous to his takeover — Musk informed Twitter staff that the platform needs to be extra like China’s WeChat, the place he mentioned customers “principally stay on” the app as a result of “it’s so usable and useful to every day life.”
The imaginative and prescient for the rebrand could go all the best way again to Musk’s creation of the unique X.com in 1999, which Musk hoped can be an all-in-one monetary platform and which ultimately turned PayPal.
Regardless of Musk’s longstanding ambitions — and the heightened stakes since he shelled out $44 billion to buy the social community — ditching Twitter’s branding in service of a future tremendous app is a big threat.
Twitter nonetheless has a protracted strategy to go if Musk desires to construct out the type of providers WeChat is understood for — all the pieces from ordering groceries and reserving yoga lessons to paying payments and chatting with buddies. And that’s to not point out the monetary and aggressive challenges the corporate faces merely present in its present type, not to mention launching a large growth. It’s additionally not clear how a lot demand there’s for such a brilliant app outdoors of China, provided that efforts by different platforms to easily promote customers on added procuring options have been sluggish to take off.
“Whereas Musk’s imaginative and prescient is to show ‘X’ into an ‘all the pieces app,’ this takes time, cash, and other people -— three issues that the corporate not has,” Mike Proulx, analysis director and vice chairman at Forrester, mentioned in an investor notice. By ditching Twitter’s title, Proulx added, Musk “can have singlehandedly worn out over fifteen years of a model title that has secured its place in our cultural lexicon,” leaving him to start out contemporary at a precarious time for the corporate.
The X branding has already began taking up Twitter.
Musk — who purchased Twitter with an organization referred to as X Corp. — tweeted on Sunday that X.com now redirects to Twitter. (Musk reportedly purchased the X.com area again from PayPal in 2017.)
On Sunday night time, the brand new stylized X brand was projected onto the corporate’s headquarters. And by Monday, the chook brand had been changed by an X on Twitter’s web site. Musk even informed followers that tweets ought to as an alternative be referred to as “x’s.”
On Sunday, CEO Linda Yaccarino appeared to substantiate Musk’s imaginative and prescient for the corporate. “X is the longer term state of limitless interactivity — centered in audio, video, messaging, funds/banking — creating a worldwide market for concepts, items, providers, and alternatives,” Yaccarino mentioned in a tweet.
Walter Isaacson, the legendary tech journalist who has been shadowing Musk to write down his biography, tweeted on Sunday that Musk informed him even earlier than the Twitter acquisition that he wished to make use of the social platform to meet his authentic, decades-old imaginative and prescient for X.com. “I’m very enthusiastic about lastly implementing X.com because it ought to have been completed, utilizing Twitter as an accelerant!” Musk texted Isaacson at 3:30 a.m. one morning final October, simply forward of his takeover, in accordance with the author.
On Monday, Musk defined the transfer in a tweet saying, “The Twitter title made sense when it was simply 140 character messages going forwards and backwards – like birds tweeting – however now you may submit nearly something, together with a number of hours of video.”
“Within the months to return, we are going to add complete communications and the flexibility to conduct your complete monetary world,” Musk mentioned. “The Twitter title doesn’t make sense in that context.”
(The rebrand additionally appears to be a continuation of a type of obsession with the letter “X,” which additionally options within the title of one in every of Tesla’s vehicles, the Mannequin X; the title of his rocket firm, SpaceX; the title of his new synthetic intelligence agency, xAI; and the title of two of his kids, X Æ A-Xii and Exa Darkish Sideræl.)
In latest weeks, Twitter has quietly begun its effort to construct out a funds enterprise referred to as Twitter Funds — the corporate was granted cash transmitter licenses in 4 US states since final month, together with Arizona and Michigan. Musk has mentioned his want to advertise longer movies on Twitter. And he’s tried to shift Twitter’s enterprise mannequin away from promoting by permitting customers to pay for verification, a method that has resulted in some chaos however solely a restricted variety of precise subscriptions.
Nonetheless, Musk faces apparent hurdles to turning Twitter right into a fully-developed tremendous app. Since buying Twitter, Musk has fired round 80% of its workers, scared away most of the advertisers that made up its core person base and pissed off a lot of its customers with controversial coverage choices. And now, Twitter faces steep competitors from Meta’s rival app Threads, which launched to beautiful success, though its utilization has petered off barely in latest days.
Musk final week additionally mentioned that Twitter nonetheless has destructive money circulate due to a 50% decline in advert income.
Even when Musk does add new options to Twitter, many US tech platforms have struggled to achieve imitating WeChat. Deloitte mentioned in a report printed final yr that Western markets are unlikely to see “a single, dominant super-app like WeChat within the close to time period” as a result of the providers such apps would goal to bundle collectively, resembling digital funds and journey hailing, already “have too many well-established gamers.”
A 2019 effort by the social media big then often known as Fb to create its personal digital foreign money and funds system that the corporate mentioned would make it simpler to purchase issues on-line formally flopped final yr following intense regulatory scrutiny. And each TikTok and Instagram have reportedly scaled again their ambitions to include e-commerce onto their platforms after their procuring options failed to achieve important traction with customers.
And till Musk rolls out important modifications to the platform, observers of the corporate say ditching Twitter’s well-known model is a dangerous transfer.
“To rebrand with out important new options looks as if a determined try for consideration,” particularly within the wake of Meta’s launch of Threads, mentioned Joshua White, assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt College. “That is akin to purchasing Coke and altering the bottle and title with out altering the system — probably a mistake.”