Twitter becomes X: Elon Musk's plans are megalomaniac, but could work
Photo: CHRIS DELMAS / AFP
Elon Musk has rebranded Twitter to X, and the world is wondering why. According to the observations made so far, there are three main answers, namely the official, the personal and the political. At first, however, the renaming including rebranding, i.e. the change of appearance, seems to be a counterproductive move. Twitter, despite many problems, is among the most recognizable brands in the world, and the entrepreneurial substance of the platform is so far without competition. So far, there is no place on the web and in the app world that can spread information from users of all kinds around the world so quickly and so effectively.
There is no official response from the press in the absence of a press department from Twitter, Musk has fired them all because he despises the press. It's only recently that press inquiries are no longer answered with a poop emoji, but with an automatic reply. Official messages must therefore be distilled from Musk's business decisions, but this is not particularly difficult either. Both Musk and Linda Yaccarino, who was installed by him and has so far acted more as a CEO actress, have often explained in which direction they want to go. Musk already formulated "the WeChat of the USA" as his goal last year.
It is important to know that the Chinese platform WeChat started as a WhatsApp clone, but has now built its own universe on the gigantic user base of the messenger, including Twitter-like publics including social media content and subscription functions, banking and payment options, an office version and its own mini-app store in the app, where a similar number of services can be booked as in the app stores of iOS and Android. The mini-apps alone now have around 500 million daily users, and WeBank, co-founded by WeChat parent Tencent and initially linked to WeChat, is now worth more than $30 billion. You can spend months and months in the realm of WeChat without ever leaving it and choose to organize or change your entire life, which is why Tencent was worth almost a trillion dollars in the meantime.
On the one hand, it is actually noticeable that there is no WeChat app in the West so far. On the other hand, most of WeChat's functions can be mapped via a handful of apps from Instagram to PayPal as well as the Apple and Google app stores. And not so bad.
Western Social Media: Gathering Missed Opportunities
If you look at the strategic side, a larger social network is indeed very well suited to build functioning services on it. And there you can, you have to look at Western social media not only as successful, but also as a gathering of missed opportunities. Instagram should have recognized its shopping potential much earlier and actually founded Shopify itself. YouTube should have developed both Netflix and TikTok. Twitter should have recognized the potential for the mixture of private messaging service and private messaging service much earlier and could actually have become WhatsApp in addition.
But the name Twitter is hard to shake for short, fast, often poisonous and trumpy, but funny explosions of words. Twitter needs a rebranding in order to be able to seriously offer banking services, just as Floppi from 2006b first had to become Florian so that he could become a serious criminal lawyer.
By the way, in addition to the new name, Twitter also needs a new structure. The complete failure of Twitter's former product team is nothing short of legendary in the industry. What people touched there crumbled into gray, annoying dust in their hands, Twitter didn't integrate a single one of the many newly acquired start-ups in any meaningful way. This may not sound very relevant from the outside, but it should not be underestimated in a job market where a large number of world-renowned tech companies are vying for the best talent.
SpaceX, x.ai and now x.com
X stands for a spirit of optimism. And thus something that Elon Musk still radiates to many, despite his many difficulties, radicalization and unpredictability. From a strategic point of view, it makes perfect sense to rename Twitter.
The personal answer to the question of why is based on the image that Elon Musk wants to paint of himself in public. The letter X has accompanied him since the nineties, his company x.com merged into PayPal, in 2017 he bought back the domain, allegedly for purely sentimental reasons.
In fact, however, the comparison with the person who is most often mentioned in the same breath as him helps: Steve Jobs. There are two types of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley: people who want to be Steve Jobs and people who don't admit they want to be Steve Jobs. From a marketing and global point of view, Steve Jobs has turned Apple into a company around an iconic letter: i. iMac. iPod. iPhone. iPad. This can even be interpreted programmatically, i for me, the person at the beginning of each product, and at the same time every product plus i automatically becomes Apple. What jobs are the i, should be the x for Musk. X.com is to become – seriously claimed by Yaccarino – the platform that "yes now ... can deliver anything«. Musk's rocket company is called SpaceX, and Musk recently founded x.ai, his OpenAI competitor to search for the "truth." Minimal complications could result from the fact that Meta, of all companies, apparently owns the trademark rights to "x" for social networks. But that's probably nothing that can't be solved with a simple cage fight against Mark Zuckerberg.
The damage to society is already happening
Finally, the political answer is bleak, as Elon Musk is on a mission he doesn't even try to hide. Why should they? He is the richest man in the world with the most powerful news platform in the world. Elon Musk hasn't just become radicalized in recent months. For some time now, he has identified a main enemy of the entire civilization: the "woke mind virus", i.e. wokeness, which he considers a kind of contagious brainwashing. This is not surprising, because these kinds of meme-like formulations are often spread in the right-wing network scene and Musk hangs around there, as we know, because he regularly replies to corresponding accounts.
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But the ideological underpinnings go much deeper. Because the most important values associated with wokeness are anti-racism and feminism. Their most important protagonists and spaces for debate in recent years have been #BlackLivesMatter and #metoo. Both movements became big hashtags on Twitter. What's more, it's no exaggeration to say that Black Lives Matter and MeToo would never have become so powerful without Twitter, perhaps wouldn't even exist.
It is no coincidence that in one of his first official acts as owner, Elon Musk publicly mocked Twitter T-shirts with the inscription Black Lives Matter and had them brought from headquarters. Elon Musk wants to crown his political struggle for life – the fight against wokeness – and destroy the instrument with which wokeness became great. The platform with the blue bird, which became the sharpest and fastest weapon of the "Wokeness Warriors", which for years tended to make life difficult for right-wingers and introduced a series of language rules that could well be described as "woke".
Elon Musk wants to erase any memory of the former world wokeness platform Twitter, and when a few right-wingers, right-wing extremists and obvious misogynists grow up and make money in the process, it not only doesn't seem to bother him, but fits pretty well into his own political stuff. Elon Musk's plans, both economic and political, are undoubtedly megalomaniacal. But make no mistake, because the probability that they will work is not even particularly low. The social damage is already happening: The next hashtag movement with the potential impact of #BlackLivesMatter or #MeToo will either not be big in the first place – or will be a right-wing movement.