Elon Musk recently floated the idea that he could start charging users of X, formerly known as Twitter, a small monthly fee to use his “town hall” platform.
“Musk didn’t mention the timing of his plan to charge X users, nor did he say exactly how much it would cost other than to say a monthly fee of ‘a few dollars or something’ would deter the creation of bot accounts. According to Musk, X has 550 million monthly active users, who share 100 million posts daily on the social network.”
As you can imagine, the Twitterverse reaction was overwhelmingly negative. X users argue that their postings and content creations make X valuable, and charging them to participate, for many, would cause them to abandon the platform altogether.
Musk made this comment as a trial balloon to get users’ reactions to determine if he should develop a subscription model and turn it into a paid service.
Since Musk purchased X, his ad revenues have been down 59%. There are many reasons ad revenue is down. Still, some advertisers do not like the direction Musk is taking X and do not want their ads next to hate speech, conspiracy theories and content that does not reflect their company’s values.
Since Musk took over the company, he has allowed many users previously banned by X back on the platform. For some, it has become even more toxic than in the past. I recently spoke to one major advertiser, who asked not to be identified, who has been reviewing their ad strategy for 2024. They believe X will become even more toxic in the upcoming election year and don’t trust Musk to manage the platform to make it safer and less controversial.
This advertiser asked an important question about this company’s future. Can we trust Elon Musk to make X safer, less controversial, and protect and keep users’ financial information private and secure across future apps and related services?
Today, Musk’s directions and strategies for X seem more driven by his whims and underlying motives than any solid, recognizable strategy. However, it would be a mistake to underestimate his ultimate goal and vision for what he wants X to be.
His reason for renaming the company X is that, in the end, it can evolve to whatever he wants it to be based on his vision and views. X has 550 million monthly active users, who share 100 million-200 million posts daily on the social network. That is a solid base of customers on which to build.
Given that he was the co-founder of PayPal, Musk’s vision will be built on a similar financial transaction engine that would be the foundation of any future subscriptions and services. This structure allows him and his team to add games, special interest groups, specialized applications, and any other services he could monetize to grow X, even if he does not make people pay for X.
X Premium verified users will most likely get access to any new apps and services first. “Last month X CEO Linda Yaccarino confirmed that video calls would be coming to the app formerly known as Twitter as part of its transition into an “everything app.” Now, new code in the X app reveals that both audio and video calls will be supported. However, the feature will not be available to all X users — only those with an X Premium membership, it appears.
The new findings were uncovered by tech veteran-turned-investor Chris Messina inside the X app’s code. As currently described, the feature will allow X users to opt to receive both audio and video calls from other Verified users, from people they follow, or from people in their address book, depending on their selection.”
At the moment, because of Musk’s often strange and erratic Tweets and his management of X, the view of Musk has become less favorable than when he just ran Tesla and Space X.
Reddit ran an unofficial poll asking their audience if they have a positive or negative view of Elon Musk. This Reddit poll was taken after Musk bought Twitter.
They had ~6400 respond to the poll/question: “Do you have a Positive or Negative view of Elon Musk?”
Of those respondents, 607 (9.4%) had a Positive view, 2000 (30.3%) had a Neutral view, 3700 (56.8%) were Negative. (220 respondents asked “What is an Elon Musk?”).
Although the poll was informal, it is in the realm of significant polls that survey as many as 2000 to get a statistical analysis of a question asked.
Regardless of whether Musk starts charging to use X, I am sure that X’s future will be built on some financial transaction engine.
That means that if you use X in any way in the future, you will confront the question of giving X a means to pay for whatever added functions, apps and services you may choose to use.
However, given his often controversial Tweets and current decisions about what is or is not allowed on Twitter, it comes down to this question:
Would you trust Elon Musk with your credit card information and your confidential data to use X and any of its new features in the future?