Between Elon Musk trying to speed-run social platform management, and his tendency to say a lot of things, then deny them at a later stage, it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on in Twitter HQ right now, and how exactly Musk and his newly assembled Twitter transition team are going to change the platform.
What is clear is that Musk is going to make drastic changes at some stage, and that he’s already pushing Twitter staff to stay on task, and get things moving quickly.
Here’s a quick round-up of the various things that may or may not be happening at Twitter right now:
As we’ve already covered, Musk is focused on re-vamping Twitter subscription offering, as he pushes to generate 50% of Twitter’s revenue intake from subscribers, reducing the app’s reliance on ads.
Musk is reportedly considering:
- Charging users for verification ticks (and charging verified users to keep theirs)
- Charging businesses to use the platform
- Enhancing exposure for verified profiles to entice sign-ups
- Adding new verification options for ‘real humans’
It’s difficult to know which of these will be tested – and I’m not sure Musk himself knows as yet – but you can expect to see Twitter make some big moves soon, on its subscription options.
Which makes sense. If Twitter can provide more enticing, interesting subscription packages, then a significant proportion of its user base likely will pay. The problem, at present, seems to be that Musk is under the impression that users will simply pay to keep using the app that they’ve always been able to use for free, or that people value the blue tick enough to pay a premium for it.
I’m not sure either of these things is true, though I do think that if Musk were to implement a small fee, in order to access the app, many people would consider paying simply to maintain their networks in the app.
I think there is a way to make this happen, but the best avenue would be to provide significant enhancements to its subscription options, as opposed to pushing people to pay for things that they can already access.
Again, I’m not sure Musk and his team are sold on what approach to take here, but it is, seemingly, a focus.
Despite Musk denying reports that he would look to cut 75% of Twitter’s staff straight up, he is indeed looking to make significant headcount reductions, and quickly, as part of cost rationalization at the company.
The Washington Post has reported that Musk will cull at least 25% of Twitter’s current roles very quickly, before assessing what will be required to keep things progressing, and keep the platform running in the interim.
Musk has already cut several senior execs, and he’s now reportedly analyzing Twitter’s sales, product, engineering and legal departments, with the first set of major cuts set to get underway soon.
There’s no way of knowing what kind of impact this could have on the app, but Musk seems confident that his tougher management style can ensure optimal productivity out of fewer people on the ground.
The return of Vine?
This seems like a troll, but…
Bring back Vine?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2022
Elon is seemingly at least considering bringing Vine back from the dead, in order to directly compete with TikTok.
Which won’t work. TikTok is better at showing people the content they want to see than Vine ever was, and Twitter’s own recommendation algorithms and processes are nowhere close to TikTok in this respect.
This seems like an idea that will get people hyped – and I have no doubt that a re-released Vine app would see a heap of download momentum in its first month or so of existence. But I suspect that this would fade pretty quick, and I don’t see any way that Vine can somehow be improved to compete with, or even beat, TikTok.
CFIUS review of Twitter deal
On another front, the Musk/Twitter deal could be set to come under more scrutiny, with US Senator Chris Murphy calling on the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) to analyze the role that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has played in funding Musk’s Twitter acquisition, and what that means for the company moving forward.
Kingdom Holding Company, along with the private office of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, have confirmed that they’ll maintain ownership of their Twitter shares following Musk’s takeover at the app, making them jointly the app’s second-largest investors.
Dear friend “Chief Twit” @elonmusk
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) October 28, 2022
Musk also sourced funding from Qatar Holding, and in combination, the increased investment by powerful foreign entities could raise questions around the potential influence they may hold over Twitter management.
It seems unlikely that the deal could be reversed as a result, but a CFIUS review could force these investors out, which could further complicate things for Musk and Co.
It’s been a busy few days for Musk, as he makes his new acquisition his core focus – and with billions in debt now riding on the app, it makes sense that Musk will want to move as quickly as he can to get things back on track.
Though it’s not clear how, exactly, Twitter can be re-directed onto a more valuable, more profitable path, and it doesn’t seem, on the face of it, that Musk has a definitive plan in mind to make this happen either as yet.
But at the same time, some changes are already happening, with Musk renaming ‘Super Follows’ to simply ‘Subscriptions’, and getting non- or logged-out users redirected to the Explore page of the app when they visit Twitter.com, as opposed to the sign-in screen.
These are small tweaks, but each was directly requested by Musk as part of his initial push to reshape the platform in his vision. Musk has also appointed various friends and Twitter experts to help him manage the transition, including (reportedly) former Twitter product chief Kayvon Beykpour, and Andreesen Horowitz adviser Sriram Krishnan.
With a brains trust established, Musk will be banging out the details of what comes next in Twitter’s office this week – and based on what we’ve seen thus far, and on Musk’s history, you can expect to see significant changes soon.