On October 27, 2022, Elon Musk finally closed the $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, starting a huge storm of global discourse on the implications of this sale and the future of the application.
Love him or hate him, everyone is holding their breath for the plans of the richest man alive for Twitter. Are these plans for the better, or for worse? Why do they matter?
Without further ado, let us get into the billionaire’s master plan for one of the most (un)popular apps in the world.
1) Turn twitter into a super-app
Reports vary about Musk’s plans for Twitter, but one thing is for sure—he wants to turn Twitter into X, a super-app. In a tweet last October 5, he claims that Twitter is instrumental in the development of X. According to him, purchasing Twitter is “an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”
Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2022
What is a super-app?
A super-app is also known as an everything app. It’s like China’s WeChat, an app that features messaging, video chatting, video games, photo sharing, ride services, food delivery, banking, and shopping. Think of it like Facebook, Messenger, Skype, Uber, Paypal, DoorDash, and Amazon but all in one application. Pretty ambitious, huh?
Super-apps have yet to catch on in the US, but Musk is confident that Twitter will be the first. “The more useful and entertaining the system is, the more people will use it,” he says. “If nothing else, I am a technologist and I can make technology go fast.”
The billionaire/innovator expects X to have 104 million users by 2028. He also promises that X will be an “ad-free” experience.
“I think if we could achieve that, or even close to that with Twitter, it would be an immense success,” he said in his first town hall meeting with Twitter staff.
Musk is well-known for ambitious innovations at Tesla and Space-X, but it is worth noting that he usually does not accomplish such innovations within the promised timeline.
He even admits that “bankruptcy isn’t out of the question” if his plans to drive higher revenue don’t pan out.
2) Twitter Blue
If you use Twitter frequently, you probably already know about Twitter Blue—the internet’s talk-of-the-town since the update was released.
For those who don’t know, Twitter Blue is Twitter’s first-ever subscription service that adds a blue check mark to your profile and early access to new features, such as edit tweet. These are all for the small price of 8 dollars per month. Pretty good deal, huh?
On December 23, a new feature was made available to subscribers: the long-awaited long-form videos. Twitter Blue subscribers can now upload 60-minute videos at 1080p resolution, with a maximum file size of 2GB.
Previously, Twitter Blue subscribers were allowed to upload 10-minute videos as large as 512MB with the same quality.
Knowing Elon Musk’s ambitious plans, we know that Twitter Blue’s features do not end here. This update opens up a variety of possibilities, especially for online creators. Are monetized videos next?
3) Longer tweets, monetized content, and money transfers
On top of longer videos, Musk also says he plans on creating a feature that allows users to attach long-form texts to tweets, promising to end the “absurdity of notepad screenshots.” He also says he plans to allow monetization for all types of content.
Twitter will soon add ability to attach long-form text to tweets, ending absurdity of notepad screenshots
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 5, 2022
Other than monetization, the tech visionary also believes that Twitter’s new eight-dollar subscription could pave the way for the app to allow a “conventional payment system” where users could send each other money within Twitter and also deposit funds into their bank accounts.
He also plans on turning this officially into a complete banking system, with high-yield savings accounts, checks, and debit cards. Can you imagine having a tangible Twitter debit card?
Well, since Musk helped found Paypal, this whole plan is entirely plausible, though we’re not yet sure when we’ll see such plans executed.
4) Increased revenue
Of course, as a businessman, we can’t forget to talk about Musk’s plans for increased revenue for Twitter.
Elon aims to quintuple the app’s revenue from 5 billion in 2021 to 26.4 billion by 2028. He also intends to reduce Twitter’s reliance on advertising to less than 50 percent of revenue, from 90 percent of total revenue in 2020 to only about 45 percent under his management. In 2028, his goal is to generate $12 billion in ad revenue and nearly $10 billion in subscriptions.
For his planned paypal-esque payments business, Musk aims to produce $15 million in revenue in 2023 and plans to grow this to up to $1.3 billion by 2028.
However, we’re not sure how these plans will pan out. Musk even admits bankruptcy is possible if things don’t go according to plan, although he assures in a tweet that Twitter, even if it’s not yet totally secure, isn’t on the fast lane to bankruptcy anymore.
Twitter isn’t secure yet, just not in the fast lane to bankruptcy. Still much work to do.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 25, 2022
How are Elon’s plans panning out?
Twitter Blue hasn’t been very successful
In a tweet last November 11, Musk says Twitter Blue needs some tweaks but is overall going well.
However, the app seems to be far from going well. As of November 23, 2022, only 140,000 people have subscribed to Twitter Blue out of Twitter’s 238 million daily users. This means it only has a total of 0.25 conversion rate, horribly far from e-commerce’s usual 2-3% conversion rate.
In other words, not enough users are being convinced to subscribe to Twitter Blue for it to bring in the revenue it is expected to generate.
This is not to mention the trolling that has emerged since Twitter Blue was launched. Shortly after it was released, it was quickly put on pause because of fake accounts impersonating brands and public figures, much to the frustration of big brand names.
On December 12, 2022, Twitter Blue was relaunched with a couple of new safeguards to combat this issue. Users need to verify their mobile number before purchasing Twitter Blue, and they are also not allowed to change their display name, username, and profile picture seven days prior to subscription. Verified brands now also have golden check marks instead of blue ones to distinguish them from Twitter Blue subscribers.
Rise in hate speech
As a self-proclaimed champion of free-speech, Elon Musk has been reinstating previously banned conservative accounts since he took ownership of Twitter. This includes the accounts of Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson, comedian Kathy Griffin, and satirical newspaper the Babylon Bee. We’re still not sure if the same will be done for Donald Trump, which Musk claims would be decided after a moderation council has been formed.
Hate speech has also been on the rise since Elon Musk took ownership of the app, with slurs against Black people rising from an average of 1,282 times a day to 3,876 times a day after Elon Musk sealed the deal; slurs against gay men rose from an average of 2,506 times a day to 3,964 a day; and antisemitic posts increased by 61 percent. Dangerous groups, such as the very far right conspiracy theory group QAnon, have also been somewhat legitimized after having subscribed to Twitter Blue.
According to researchers, these changes are alarming—the rapid rise in hate speech, problematic posts, and formerly banned accounts in such a short period of time is something that they have never seen before.
Whether or not hate speech will be reduced after the formation of a moderation council is unsure, but it is for certain that Twitter needs it immediately.
Since these changes took place, users have been moving to Mastodon, an alternative microblogging site to Twitter.
The migration to Mastodon
Mastodon is probably an app you’ve never heard of before. But since the billionaire’s purchase of the bird app, user sign-ups have seen an unprecedented increase in this alternative microblogging site.
Some social media analysts believe that Musk’s hot takes and unpopular opinions might only be a clever publicity tactic, but statistics show that the largest surges in Mastodon downloads happened shortly after some of the tech billionaire’s chaotic decisions.
Mastodon downloads averaged from 130 an hour from October 1 to 26. When Musk took control of the app on Oct. 28, it made a sudden jump to 2000 an hour. After the mass layoffs occurred a week later, it once again rose to 5,000 an hour. Finally, it peaked at 10,000 an hour after the news broke out about the mass resignation of employees due to an email ultimatum on November 17.
Mastodon, of course, is still a pretty small app compared to Twitter with a total of 8.7 million users as of writing, but the mass migration of users since Musk took hold of Twitter shows that his taking ownership of the app is off to a rocky start. If you calculated the sum total of their downloads this past month, it’s more than the total number of Twitter Blue subscribers so far.
Do you think Elon’s actions are only part of his calculated plan for the creation of a genius super-app? Or will he cause Twitter’s ultimate downfall? Let us know in the comments!