Elon Musk explains his plans for Twitter business on Twitter
Elon Musk delivered his most comprehensive overview of Twitter business since taking over the company less than two weeks ago, with little warning and in front of hordes of listeners.
Mr. Musk spent an hour on Spaces, Twitter live audio, talking about his plans for the social media service, positioning it as a competitor to more than just traditional social networks like Facebook.
The world’s richest man stated that Twitter would make money from content creators and go deeper into video, both of which TikTok has mastered. He described a vision for Twitter to process payments, complete with linked debit cards and bank accounts, similar to PayPal, the digital payments company he co-founded. Mr. Musk has stated that he hopes to eventually transform Twitter into an “everything app” similar to WeChat, a Chinese social media platform used by over a billion people to find news, hail cabs, and order food. The gathering was ostensibly organized for Twitter advertisers, with whom Mr. Musk has had a tumultuous relationship in his brief tenure as CEO.
As some brands paused their spending on Twitter due to concerns about how his ownership might change the platform’s content, he has swung from conciliatory meetings with Madison Avenue executives to threats of a “thermonuclear name & shame.” Mr. Musk assured advertisers that Twitter was still committed to them and their concerns about problematic content that proliferated on the platform during Tuesday’s midterm elections. However, his presentation went far beyond advertising, providing more information about his plans than the often contradictory tidbits that had leaked in recent days. “The rate of evolution of Twitter will be a massive step change in comparison to what it has been in the past,” the 51-year-old predicted. “You know, if nothing else, I’m a technologist who can make technology move quickly.” That’s exactly what you’ll see on Twitter.”
Since Mr. Musk completed his $44 billion buyout of Twitter on Oct. 27, the company has undergone a frenzy of changes. Last week, he laid off half of its workforce and announced, then postponed, a plan to increase revenue by charging users $8 per month to receive the coveted verification check mark on their profiles. He and his advisers have also discussed charging users a fee to send direct messages to celebrities on the platform, as well as adding “pay-walled” videos.
Mr. Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” has also stated that he would reverse many of Twitter’s content policies, though he has made no changes and plans to form a council to advise him on those decisions in the coming months. Mr. Musk is under financial pressure to ensure Twitter’s success. His acquisition was the largest in the technology industry’s history. In order to complete the transaction, he also loaded the company with $13 billion in debt, which will require it to pay more than $1 billion in interest each year. And, historically, Twitter has lost money and grown at a slower rate than some of its competitors. Mr. Musk and his confidants have been brainstorming business ideas for Twitter for weeks, with some of them being implemented.
Businesses that conduct money transfers, currency exchanges, or cash checks must register with FinCEN and report suspicious transactions to the agency. According to a FinCEN spokeswoman, the agency does not comment on specific businesses. Twitter had dabbled in financial services before Mr. Musk took over as CEO. It introduced a tipping feature in September, allowing users to make small donations to their favorite Twitter creators in cash or cryptocurrency. It also allows people to charge subscription fees for exclusive content, such as newsletters and deducts a small percentage of their earnings.