Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter shows he has, to date, no clear game plan for the company—but he is still ultimately responsible for its decisions and reputation.
- Elon Musk only purchased Twitter on October 29 but the chaotic state of its new policies and content rollout has advertisers and users concerned.
- He came to Twitter promising to make it more profitable and efficient—with a greater focus on free speech and open dialog. He doesn’t appear to have a clear vision for how to implement these ideas though.
- Twitter is currently operating without a board of directors and with reduced content-moderation capabilities.
- The company has made several controversial decisions like charging monthly fees for Blue Checkmarks, which was met with widespread condemnation for lacking proper identity verification measures.
- Musk fired large portions of the staff the week after taking over the company, only to rehire some employees who had access to important knowledge of the company’s operations.
- Musk has responded to major criticisms by deriding them on Twitter.
- Musk admitted that Twitter will do lots of “dumb things,” but adds the company keep what works and “change what doesn’t.”
Why it’s News
Musk’s venture with Twitter has gotten off to a rocky start, with the company meandering under its new leadership and with revenue dropping.
“We knew that Musk didn’t conduct due diligence before offering to buy Twitter and that he hadn’t thought too deeply about thorny content moderation issues. What we didn’t know was that, as the months and lawsuits dragged on, he wasn’t laying the groundwork for ownership,” opines Axios.
“Elon Musk is still early in the first inning of owning Twitter, but he’s already down a few runs.”
As The Verge notes, there doesn’t appear to be a way for Musk to turn the ship around without betraying his initial intentions for the platform. He is now responsible for delegating how the company builds relationships with advertisers and governments and his personal actions will reflect on the company.
“There is no possible way to grow users and revenue without making a series of enormous compromises that will ultimately destroy your reputation and possibly cause grievous damage to your other companies,” says The Verge.
“You are now the King of Twitter, and people think that you, personally, are responsible for everything that happens on Twitter now.”
Of course, it’s still early, and Musk sees a lot of potential in the platform—mainly as a home for open discourse and growth, saying “the long-term potential for Twitter, in my view, is an order of magnitude greater than its current value.” Figuring out how to make the company revenue positive will be one of his first major challenges as an owner.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, Musk has the opportunity to detoxify Twitter if he plays his cards right and turn it into something that it couldn’t have been as a publicly traded company. He may be able to internally reform the company and reward employees who forward free speech and free expression on the platform.
“In any company, management controls the rewards available to employees and can change their behavior if it wants to. Mr. Musk may be just so blessed with the combination of attributes to do this job at Twitter right now that other potential bidders haven’t raised their hands,” says WSJ’s Holman Jenkins.
And this afternoon, Musk tweeted… “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in the coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.”