- Think of Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition less like a typical private equity play, where he fixes and sells the business, and more like Jeff Bezos’s purchase of The Washington Post.
- It’s all about influence, and Musk has already used Twitter to market and sell products, engage with regulators and critics to discredit and discredit, and spread his ideas to more than 100 million followers.
- By owning the platform, he will shape the conversation by claiming that he is protecting free speech.
Twitter A lousy business. Has always been.
The company never made a consistent profit. Its audience is much smaller than Facebook or Instagram (both owned) meta), YouTube (which is part of) Google) or TikTok (owned by China’s ByteDance). It’s not even as big as Snapchat in terms of daily users.
Elon Musk knows this. He is a shrewd businessman who can read earnings reports.
That’s why Musk misses out on talking about his plans to reform Twitter and turn it into a better business. It doesn’t really matter if math adds up to its new plan of charging $8 a month for verification or Twitter Blue or whatever it ends up with.
He cuts 25% or 50% or 75% of the workforce and it doesn’t matter how much money he saves by doing so. Creating some super-app that emulates China’s WeChat in combining commerce and content — which, by the way, would pose interesting challenges over a service that allows anonymity and fake names — doesn’t even really matter.
Yes, running the business efficiently and improving cash flow will be critical to the platform’s continued survival, especially now that Twitter has a $13 billion debt load on the service, But as Mark Zuckerberg said about Facebook in 2012, making money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Musk’s net worth is over $200 billion. that’ll be fine.
The real power of Twitter is its influence.
Musk often claims that Tesla Doesn’t spend on traditional advertising. Twitter, which he uses to communicate directly with his more than 100 million followers, is a big reason.
They have used it to introduce and promote countless new Tesla products and features (many of which include did not reach even after years of talks) they have sold flamethrower, tequila and Perfume, He is associated with and critical of the press and regulators. It has also influenced the prices of cryptocurrencies.
Musk also got in hot water with the SEC for tweeting in 2018 that he had “funding secured” to take the car company private at $420 per share. The regulator accused Musk of fraud, and the two sides eventually settled, requiring the Tesla CEO to have some future tweets reviewed by a “Twitter sitter” first.
As the owner of Twitter, Musk now controls a platform that has a plethora of data about the connections between its users, their conversations, their interests, and more. Imagine the information available about Tesla’s automotive competitors – how much they’re spending on advertising, what keywords and demographics they’re targeting, how they engage with customers and fans, how they handle customer service complaints. receive and how to solve them.
Most importantly, Musk, the owner of Twitter, has expanded his reach far beyond his fanbase. He will be able to establish the principles that affect the entire flow of information through the platform.
Musk has indicated this in his statements about Twitter as a bastion of free speech.
In April, when he first disclosed his investment in the company, Musk wrote to then-president Brett Taylor, “I invested in Twitter because I believe it has the potential to be the platform for free speech around the world, and I believe that free speech is a social imperative for a functioning democracy.”
Recently, when advertisers were pledged that Twitter would not become a “free-for-all hellscape,” Musk explained, “The reason I acquired Twitter is to be a generic digital town square for the future of civilization. important, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.”
Of course, Musk later tried to terminate his purchase agreement and ultimately tried and avoided a high-profile court battle.
For free speech, it’s complicated. Every platform and media company constantly have to choose About what is allowed and what is discouraged – depictions of illegal activity, hate speech, harassment, obscenity, lies, tasteless jokes, etc. No platform is perfect every time. Users and advertisers complain, platforms adjust, and the cycle continues.
But so far, Musk has compared “free speech” with “weak restraint” on Twitter.
He has echoed complaints from the right wing that Twitter suppresses his views and posts, repeatedly saying that Twitter should be politically neutral and “Left and right equally upset.He has said that he will reverse the permanent ban on former President Donald Trump, which Twitter shut down after January 6, citing the risk of further inciting violence, although Musk recently said less At least no one is being reinstated for a few more weeks.
During his first weekend of owning the service, Musk responded to Hillary Clinton by tweeting an unfounded, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory about an attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. After that he deleted it.
Even on the weekend, Twitter allegedly reinstated The suspended account of Arizona Republican Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem, who served as a state legislator Allegedly The 2020 election took steps to reverse the state’s vote for President Joe Biden and who traveled to Washington DC for a January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. Finchem says he was not part of the mob that stormed the capital.
In the long run, less restraint on Twitter blurs the lines between right and wrong. It becomes another place where people can disseminate competing views of objective reality and whip up crowds of agitators for promoting or discrediting facts or stories they do not like. Everything becomes an equally weighted message, it is left for the user to decide what is true. Marketing, journalism and publicity will be separated.
In that world, the loudest messages that carry the most weight are the ones that get heard. For someone who runs several major businesses and has a strong opinion of regulationLaws, unionization, and other matters, it’s a very tempting prospect, even though Twitter, the business, never pays him a dime.
watch: Musk biographer Walter Isaacson is thinking about layoffs on Twitter
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