After more than six months of one of the most dramatic, high-profile corporate deals in recent years, it’s finally official: Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, has taken over as CEO of Twitter.
But if you think the Musk-Twitter saga is done, think again. The actual drama is yet to unfold.
Until recently, Musk’s main business interests were developing electric vehicles, rockets, and underground tunnels. Now he must solve a new, very different business problem: properly administering a social media platform with roughly 400 million users.
Musk has already fired three of the company’s top and highest-paid executives, and on October 31, he disbanded the Board of Directors, putting himself in full authority. Rumors of looming layoffs are now circulating.
So far, Musk has thrown out a lot of ideas about how he expects to turn around Twitter, frequently in the form of tweets. Here are a few of the most important ones.
Layoffs: Since Musk took charge and fired the company’s senior leaders, including CEO Parag Agrawal, staff at Twitter have been prepared for layoffs. Insiders claim that senior members of the product teams were instructed to strive for a 50% reduction in staff. The lists were inspected by Tesla engineers and staff at the director level. In addition, unnamed sources claim that layoff lists were compiled and ranked based on employees’ contributions to Twitter’s programming throughout their tenure.
Leadership: One of several anticipated changes at the company following Musk’s recent takeover is Twitter’s new product leadership. He recently discussed a few ideas with close friends and advisors to best improve the service he just purchased for $44 billion. As a result, he is likely to assign new product leadership within Twitter.
The most senior product executives at Twitter are reportedly not expected to continue with the company while Musk is in charge. Whoever Musk selects to head the project will have a big impact on one of the biggest internet platforms in the world.
Kayvon Beykpour, the former head of Twitter product which was ousted earlier this year by the previous CEO, is one potential leader.
Vine: Those with knowledge of the matter claim that Musk is thinking of restarting Vine. The popular short-form video app Vine, which Twitter acquired in 2012, is comparable to TikTok, Instagram’s Reels, and YouTube’s Shorts. Many employees are reportedly volunteering internally to work on the Vine project, hoping to participate in something.
Not as easy as just turning it back on. However, it would raise further concerns, such as the potential for music rights alliances and the demand for better tools for creative payment.
Verification: Initially, Musk wants to charge for the blue-check verification badge. The Verge claims that he has given a team the task of creating the option, and they have seven days to complete it or risk losing their jobs.
On Twitter, there was a lot of debate about the idea. Some people claimed they would never pay for something they had previously received for free, while others believed Twitter was wasting money if it didn’t charge for such a valuable service.
Additionally, the blue tick mark may lose some of its social cachets if users are required to pay for verification rather than meet the criteria of being well-known individuals or brands.
Content Moderation: Musk’s most consistent argument for acquiring Twitter is that he wants it to be a public open digital town square of ideas. As long as it’s legal, he has stated that he will permit anyone to say whatever they want on the platform.
“I think it’s essential to have free speech and to be able to communicate freely,” said Musk at a Twitter employee meeting in June that Vox obtained a recording of.
Racial slurs, violent graphic content, bullying, and spam are just a few examples of perfectly legal things you can say that is offensive to look at. Since most users and advertising don’t want to be around that kind of content, it’s generally bad for business.
Musk is aware of it. Because of this, he has paradoxically stated that he will use algorithms to support “freedom of speech,” but not “freedom of reach,” and to promote and downrank content.
“I think people should be allowed to say pretty outrageous things that are within the bounds of the law, but then that doesn’t get amplified, it doesn’t get, you know, a ton of reach,” said Musk at the June Twitter staff meeting.