Elon Musk’s turbulent romance with Twitter may finally be headed to the altar, with the world’s richest person now close tofor the social media platform it first tried to buy in the spring for $44 billion.
Musk seems to have plenty of ideas to turn around the beleaguered company, but he has a lot of work ahead of him. Twitter remains controversial, with Conservatives accusing it of censorship, while Liberals say it turns a blind eye to abuse and harassment. Users of the service lament the widespread presence of bots on the platform. Perhaps most uncertain is Musk’s ability and willingness to lead Twitter, which is facing huge competitive and financial pressures.
“The easy part was buying Twitter, the hard part is going to be turning it around,” said Dan Ives, technology analyst at Wedbush. “It’s been a third-tier social media platform. Monetization has been extremely difficult. I see a lot of challenges ahead. And then there’s the concern that you’re juggling too many balls at once.”
If the deal goes through, current CEO Parag Agrawal is likely to leave. He and Musk have clashed publicly, with the latter texting about his discontent with the Twitter boss, as revealed in messages made public last week. Former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko told the Senate last month that Agrawal ignored bigprompting Senator Chuck Grassley to call for the CEO’s removal.
As for who might lead Twitter, experts are noncommittal, with one caveat: It can’t be Musk.
“He’s the worst guy to put in the CEO job,” said William Klepper, director of executive education at Columbia Business School. “He’s an inventor, he’s not a manager. He’s like a loose cannon, but he’s a genius.”
The ideal leader, Klepper said, would be someone who has brought a startup to a mature stage and has experience engineering similar changes at other companies, along with a healthy tolerance for chaos.
“Would you like to be in an organization that is in decline, that was sold to a new leader that has a history of being volatile, but extremely innovative?” he added she. “That environment needs to retain as many good talents as possible and invite people who are open to change, and Musk will have to articulate his vision.”
Tweet for users
Once Twitter is a private company, it will be relieved of some pressure to turn a quarter-over-quarter profit to appease Wall Street. That’s a positive, as the platform has seen user interest decline since the 2019-2020 election cycle, according to eMarketer. The marketing intelligence firm predicts that Twitter’s user base will shrink slightly this year and will continue to decline in the coming years.
But Musk’s involvement could keep loyal Twitterers on board. polling from Ipsos in April he suggested that big users were the most positive about the Musk acquisition, with most believing it would improve the amount of “free speech” on the platform.
In particular, Musk promised to bring Donald Trump back to the platform, a move that was sure to bring back many of the former president’s fans while pushing others off Twitter.
Creating an “app for everything”
In a few years, Twitter under Musk could be much bigger and more feature-rich. He previously said that he wants the platform, which now has approximately 238 million regular users, to have one billion users and aggressively expand abroad.
On Tuesday, Musk again suggested expanding the platform’s services, tweeting: “Buying Twitter is an accelerator to create X, the everything app.”
Musk has long touted the idea of a “super app.” At a June town hall with Twitter employees, he spoke favorably of WeChat, a popular app in China used for everything from requesting a ride to buying groceries to chatting with friends.
“You basically live on WeChat in China because it’s very helpful and useful for daily life, and I think if we can achieve that, or even get close to that on Twitter, that would be a huge success,” he said.
In a presentation Musk sent out in May, he proposed adding a payment platform to Twitter and adding a subscription feature, while moving to increase overall revenue fivefold to $26 billion, according to the New York Times. Times. It also projected that the platform would have 930 billion users by 2028, the Times reported.
For Musk, however, the first step in revitalizing Twitter would involve repairing the damage caused by his months-long public feud with the company.
In Ives’ view, Musk has agreed to proceed with the merger to avoid a likely loss in his legal battle to get out of the deal, with the case set to begin later this month in Delaware Chancery Court. That suggests Musk’s attitude could be the biggest obstacle to rehabilitating Twitter.
“The writing was on the wall,” Ives said. “I was going to lose in Delaware. I would have ended up in the same situation, owning Twitter but with a lot more public embarrassment.”
Ives added: “Now he owns a house he didn’t want to own.”