Decoding Elon Musk's X: The Future of Twitter Unveiled
Elon Musk's Decision To Change Twitter's Name Sparks Controversy
As the multibillionaire at the helm of Twitter, Elon Musk made a groundbreaking announcement in July 2023 that sent shockwaves through the online world. With a single decision, he forever changed the course of the iconic social network, consigning the beloved blue birdie to the archives of internet history. Yes, you heard it right - Twitter is no more, and in its place will soon stand "X."
Let's story behind Musk's bold move and explore the implications it holds for the digital landscape. Join us as we unravel the reasoning behind the renaming, the potential impact on users, and the aftermath of this seismic shift in social media. Let's continue reading to discover how "X" is set to redefine the way we communicate in the digital age.
On Saturday, July 22, Musk tweeted:
Soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.
Musk also stated that the long-running social media website will run off the x.com domain name before polling users as to whether the site should "change the default platform color to black." As of Sunday nearly 75% of voters confirmed this decision.
The Change Was Nearly Instaneous
As of this writing, Musk's new version of Twitter has yet to move to its new x.com domain name, but the logo has already been updated. On the evening of the 22nd, Musk tweeted:
If a good enough X logo is posted tonight, we’ll make [it] go live worldwide tomorrow.
The Change Has Been Coming For Months
In April 2023, it was revealed that Elon Musk made a significant change to Twitter Inc. He decided to rename the company to X Corp., and it is now officially incorporated in Nevada with its primary location in San Francisco.
Interestingly, Musk had been contemplating the idea of the name change even before he officially acquired Twitter. On October 4, 2022, shortly after confirming his decision to proceed with the Twitter deal, he mentioned his intention to go ahead with the name change, stating:
Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.
Musk Has Been Trying To Make X Happen For Years
In 1999, Elon Musk co-founded an internet bank called X.com. However, just a year later, the bank underwent a name change and became known as PayPal. It looks as if he's been waiting to use the X title for something since then.
X Is A Major Component of Musk's Life
The same day that Musk announced the change he commented on the fact that he has a major obsession with the letter X. He tweeted:
Not sure what subtle clues gave it [away], but I like the letter X.
One of Musk’s children is named X Æ A-XII, and they go by the nickname “X.”
The Twitter Takeover Has Not Been An Easy One
Following Musk's takeover of Twitter in a massive $44 billion deal, he made significant changes to the company's leadership structure. He decided to dismiss Twitter's executive leadership and dismantle its board. Subsequently, Twitter underwent four rounds of extensive employee layoffs, reducing its workforce by approximately 80%. The estimated headcount, which was around 7,800 employees, was slashed down to approximately 1,500 employees.
Revenue At Twitter Is In Decline
To address Twitter's significant decline in ad revenue, Musk appointed Linda Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal advertising executive, as the new CEO. His aim is to reverse the company's downward trend in advertising income. However, despite these efforts, Musk recently shared that Twitter is still facing negative cash flow due to a sharp 50% decrease in advertising revenue and a substantial debt burden.
This Isn't The First Big Change That Musk Has Made To His Newly Acquired Site
Musk has been making efforts to increase Twitter's subscription revenue by introducing a service called Twitter Blue, which costs $8 per month. This subscription offers several benefits, including the coveted "verified" blue-check mark that was previously limited to celebrities and other notable accounts. Additionally, the company has started sharing ad revenue with specific creators. To be eligible for these payments, users must be subscribed to Twitter Blue.
X.Com Has Sentimental Value To Musk
When X merged with PayPal in 2000, the domain name remained with PayPal. Although Musk had left PayPal by the time it went public in 2002, he still earned millions from the initial public offering (IPO).
Recently, it was reported by Elliot Silver, president of a domain management company called Top Notch Domains, that the ownership information for x.com had become private on July 5. The exact amount Musk spent to acquire the domain remains unclear, but Silver estimated it could be a significant sum, possibly reaching an eight-digit figure like $10 million.
No One Knows How Much X Cost
While speaking with Quartz, Alan Dunn, the managing director of NameCorp, a Florida-based digital naming agency, commented on the sale of X:
It’s extremely hard to estimate the sales price of private domain name sales, especially when there are intangible (and emotional) X factors in a purchase such as this one. It’s something which drives a lot of curious people crazy.
The Company's Branding Changed Overnight
Seemingly in the blink of an eye Twitter's famous bird logo was removed from the site and replaced with a heavily stylized X.
The Change Was Reflected In The Company's HQ As Well
At Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco, they adorned the cafeteria with X logos, and they renamed some conference rooms using words that include the letter X. For instance, the rooms were given names like "eXposure," "eXult," and "s3Xy." These details were reported by The New York Times, which had access to photos depicting the changes made inside the company's office.
Musk Branded Twitter HQ With An X
In the wee hours of Monday morning, Musk tweeted (X'd?) a photo of Twitter's Headquarters with a large "X" projected on the side of the building. The photo included the caption:
Our headquarters tonight.
The Bird Has Been Twitter's Mascot Since Its Inception
By initiating the process of removing the Twitter name, Musk is discarding a well-established brand that had been in place since the company's founding in 2006. This brand has been both a thorn in the side and a salve to celebrities, politicians, athletes, and other users throughout the years. In 2010, Twitter introduced its iconic blue bird mascot, which received an update two years later.
Musk Told Twitter Employees Of The Change Moments Before He Told Users
According to a Threads post by Zoe Schiffer, the managing editor of Platformer, on June 22, Musk sent an email to Twitter employees stating that the company would be changing its name to X. He also mentioned that this would be the final time he would send an email from a Twitter address. Zoe Schiffer speculated that Musk might have been referring to the logo change, as Twitter's business had already been renamed X Corp.
Experts Worry That Musk Is Throwing Away Valuable Branding
Mike Proulx, a vice president and research director at Forrester, has stated that Musk is essentially throwing away the "holy grail" of branding by ditching a website name that has become a verb. He told the New York Times:
The app itself has become a cultural phenomenon in all sorts of ways. In one fell sweep, Elon Musk has essentially wiped out 15 years of brand value from Twitter and is now essentially starting from scratch.
X May Have Negative Connotations
According to Mike Carr, a co-founder of the branding company NameStormers, Mr. Musk's X logo might give off an unsettling feeling of a powerful and controlling tech entity, like a "Big Brother." In contrast to the current blue bird logo, which is seen as friendly but a bit outdated and burdened by negative publicity, the new X logo is perceived as quite severe and harsh. He explained:
If they do this wrong and it was anybody other than Elon Musk, he’d be running a higher risk because people could start making fun of it.
This Isn't The First Change That Musk Has Made To Twitter
Mr. Musk has openly expressed his distaste for Twitter's past corporate culture. He has raised objections to the abundance of bird-related references in the company's internal team names and products. For example, he renamed a crowdsourced fact-checking feature from "Birdwatch" to "Community Notes." Recently, he kicked things up a notch and had someone cover the letter "w" in Twitter's name at their San Francisco headquarters, showcasing his clear distaste for the bird-associated branding.
Twitter's Former CEO Isn't Bothered By The Change
One of the individuals who didn't appear to be bothered by the name change was Jack Dorsey, a co-founder and former CEO of Twitter. In a tweet on Monday, he mentioned that while a rebrand wasn't necessary to fulfill Mr. Musk's vision, there could be some valid arguments in favor of it. Dorsey tweeted:
The Twitter brand carries a lot of baggage. But all that matters is the utility it provides, not the name.
Some Twitter Users Roasted The Name Change
Musk's sudden branding change prompted Twitter uses to send out jokes, create memes, and post all manner of dissatisfaction with the change, including statements that range from "I didn't ask for this," to:
At least the X branding is honest.
Twitter hasn’t felt like the chirping of a funny little bird for years. It is now the dystopian drone of a pain machine, a device built for torture, the home of liars, bullies and fantasists, a home for the digitally insane, an absolute X.