Elon Musk has just bought Twitter. After a dramatic courtship that took place publicly over the last few months, the deal was officially closed last week with Elon Musk buying Twitter for $44 Billion. While part of Elon’s stated objectives included making Twitter a platform more accommodating for ‘free speech,’ he has also outlined tactics to improve Twitter’s financial position. This week, Elon is making a large round of layoffs, including the former CEO Parag Agrawal and Head of Legal and Policy Vijaya Gadde. He also describes the idea of charging people $8 a month in order to have a verified blue tick attached to their Twitter account.
Elon has been critical of Twitter’s management for months, and another one of his first steps as the new owner is to bring Tesla engineers to do code reviews. He has brought in outside tech executives (and crypto enthusiasts) Sriram Krishnan and David Sacks to help restructure Twitter. Another element of his plan is the creation of a new content moderation council to help govern Twitter content with a wide variety of political perspectives. Elon is a massively famous and prolific tech entrepreneur, who also happens to be the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. It’s just the beginning of his foray into reshaping Twitter and whatever Elon does next will have far reaching consequences for one of the world’s most influential media platforms.
What happens next to Twitter will also influence the world of NFTs and Web3.
Over the last year, Twitter has been one of the homes for NFT and crypto culture. Large parts of the NFT community hang out on Twitter, communicate on Twitter, and get their information on Twitter. In response, Twitter’s product teams have also made deliberate moves to add Web3-friendly features to the app. Twitter has rolled out NFT verification for profile pictures and most recently created ‘NFT Tweet Tiles’ to more easily facilitate NFT commerce.
Jack Dorsey, Co-Founder and former CEO of Twitter, has previously reflected on the idea that Twitter may have been better off as a decentralized protocol, which Elon Musk replied to with interest. Dorsey is now exploring a new company Bluesky, which is essentially a more decentralized version of Twitter. With Musk onboard, Dorsey may have more of an incentive to work closely with the new Twitter owner.
CZ, Founder and CEO of crypto exchange Binance, contributed $500 Million to the acquisition of Twitter, implying that Binance now owns an equity stake in the company. As a leading Web3 company, Binance also has a large vested interest in seeing Twitter develop features to help facilitate greater web3 adoption.
On top of this all, Twitter seems ripe to be a platform that accepts crypto payments. Elon Musk himself has been one of the world’s most vocal proponents of the Dogecoin cryptocurrency, which is a cryptocurrency essentially built on top of a Shiba Inu dog meme. Whether ironic performance art or an actual belief in the Dogecoin technology, Elon Musk has helped influence the price of Dogecoin. And buttressed by his social media presence, the price of Tesla stock has risen in line with the more outrageous proclamations from Musk.
A lot of major tech companies are executing on their Web3 strategy. Twitter is not the only company that sees the opportunity in Web3. Over the last year, Instagram (part of Meta) has been releasing more and more features that better enable buying, selling, and trading of NFTs. Reddit’s collectible avatar NFTs have sparked the creation of 3 Million crypto wallets, arguably one of the most successful recent ‘NFT projects.’ The Web2 social media platforms will not stand by and miss out on the Web3 opportunity. With Elon Musk as CEO, Twitter may be the best positioned social media company to take advantage of this.
Twitter also comes with many challenges. Twitter has been a controversial forum for a variety of political views that can often descend into outright hostility. Content moderation has been a thankless job for several years, as is the case with other social media platforms like Facebook, and regardless of Elon’s ideas, the idea of policing content will not be an easy problem to solve. Relative to the company’s cultural influence, Twitter’s financial performance and user growth has been disappointing for many years. And it’s an open question as to whether Elon Musk’s new leadership will help or harm company morale.
The allure of Elon Musk is polarizing. He has legions of fans and followers around the world, many of whom treat him like an unofficial cult leader. To this group, Elon Musk taking over Twitter is a bullish signal for the company, and may even encourage more people to work at Twitter. At the same time, Musk has many critics and detractors who take issue with how his own public antics influence his businesses. Managing both friends and enemies is something Elon has been doing for years, and will influence how Twitter proceeds.
Twitter has become a cultural hub for the Web3 community, and one of the best places to participate in the world of NFTs. Depending on what happens next, Twitter could help bring NFTs and Web3 to the forefront of mainstream culture. And a large part of this is reliant on one man–Elon Musk.