Elon Musk’s transfer over the weekend to rebrand Twitter and change 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 12 months, he laid out a vision for an “everything” app known as X, the place customers may talk, store, eat leisure and extra. Final June — previous to his takeover — Musk advised Twitter staff that the platform needs to be extra like China’s WeChat, the place he mentioned customers “basically live on” the app as a result of “it’s so usable and helpful to daily life.”
The imaginative and prescient for the rebrand could go all the way in which again to Musk’s creation of the unique X.com in 1999, which Musk hoped could be an all-in-one monetary platform and which finally grew to become 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 danger.
Twitter nonetheless has an extended technique to go if Musk needs to construct out the sort of companies WeChat is thought for — every thing 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 current in its present type, not to mention launching a large growth. It’s additionally not clear how a lot demand there’s for such an excellent app outdoors of China, on condition that efforts by different platforms to easily promote customers on added buying options have been sluggish to take off.
“While Musk’s vision is to turn ‘X’ into an ‘everything app,’ this takes time, money, and people -— three things that the company no longer has,” Mike Proulx, analysis director and vp at Forrester, mentioned in an investor notice. By ditching Twitter’s identify, Proulx added, Musk “will have singlehandedly wiped out over fifteen years of a brand name 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 on Twitter.
Musk — who purchased Twitter with an organization known 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 advised followers that tweets ought to as an alternative be known as “x’s.”
On Sunday, CEO Linda Yaccarino appeared to substantiate Musk’s imaginative and prescient for the corporate. “X is the future state of unlimited interactivity — centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking — creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities,” Yaccarino mentioned in a tweet.
Walter Isaacson, the legendary tech journalist who has been shadowing Musk to put in writing his biography, tweeted on Sunday that Musk advised 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 am very excited about finally implementing X.com as it should have been done, using Twitter as an accelerant!” Musk texted Isaacson at 3:30 a.m. one morning final October, simply forward of his takeover, in line with the author.
On Monday, Musk defined the transfer in a tweet saying, “The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth – like birds tweeting – but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video.”
“In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world,” Musk mentioned. “The Twitter name does not make sense in that context.”
(The rebrand additionally appears to be a continuation of a form of obsession with the letter “X,” which additionally options within the identify of one among Tesla’s vehicles, the Mannequin X; the identify of his rocket firm, SpaceX; the identify of his new synthetic intelligence agency, xAI; and the identify of two of his kids, X Æ A-Xii and Exa Darkish Sideræl.)
In current weeks, Twitter has quietly begun its effort to construct out a funds enterprise known 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 need 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 technique 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 lots of the advertisers that made up its core consumer 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 current days.
Musk final week additionally mentioned that Twitter nonetheless has detrimental money movement due to a 50% decline in advert income.
Even when Musk does add new options to Twitter, many US tech platforms have struggled to reach imitating WeChat. Deloitte mentioned in a report revealed final 12 months that Western markets are unlikely to see “a single, dominant super-app like WeChat in the near term” as a result of the companies such apps would goal to bundle collectively, corresponding to digital funds and trip hailing, already “have too many well-established players.”
A 2019 effort by the social media big then referred to 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 12 months following intense regulatory scrutiny. And each TikTok and Instagram have reportedly scaled again their ambitions to include e-commerce onto their platforms after their buying options failed to realize important traction with customers.
And till Musk rolls out important adjustments to the platform, observers of the corporate say ditching Twitter’s well-known model is a dangerous transfer.
“To rebrand without significant new features seems like a desperate attempt for attention,” particularly within the wake of Meta’s launch of Threads, mentioned Joshua White, assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt College. “This is akin to buying Coke and changing the bottle and name without changing the formula — likely a mistake.”