Love or hate him, you have to admire Elon Musk’s chutzpah. Musk, one of the richest men in the world, recently disclosed a 9.2% investment in Twitter making him the largest shareholder, with a seat on the Board of Directors.
While the social media site is smaller compared to Meta, Instagram and other massive platforms, it serves as the public town square. Much of the public discourse takes place on the site. Journalists, politicians, financial professionals and people from across all social and economic strata weigh in with their thoughts and opinions.
It seems that everything becomes political, and people divide themselves into warring, squabbling factions. Musk’s new role at Twitter has divided people. Concerns were raised by both internal workers and users over what will happen now that Musk is acting like he’s taking over.
Some Twitter employees and users of the site openly complained and said they’d leave the platform. Libertarians and conservatives were elated as they claimed they were ostracized and censored on the site while Jack Dorsey was in charge. One very happy group is the shareholders. Upon Musk’s announcement, the share price of Twitter skyrocketed nearly 20% higher.
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He hasn’t wasted any time taking charge. On Twitter, Musk has been tweeting his thoughts about new changes that should be made. He won’t be a typical investor and board member. The intrepid entrepreneur has a huge Twitter cult following, gets the zeitgeist of the platform and is an avid tweeter who mixes smart takes along with a sense of humor. This includes his creating a poll to determine if Twitter should “Delete the w in twitter?”
Musk proposed a subscription type of model, called Twitter Blue premium. It would charge around $3.00 per month to get a verified blue check–one that is different from the “official account” and “paid 12 months upfront & account doesn’t get a checkmark for 60 days (watch for credit card chargebacks) & suspended with no refund if used for scam/spam.” The company currently has a feature for members to tip creators with bitcoin. There may be an option to pay the fee with dogecoin cryptocurrency, which is associated with Musk as he has referenced the token on numerous occasions.
This new offering would provide for a steady stream of revenue and uncouple the social media site’s dependent upon corporate advertisers. The multi-billionaire also added that if the paid subscription expires, the checkmark should also go away. This, he says, will mute the bots and scammers who try to game the system by signing up for only a couple of months. Twitter Blue was previously launched in June 2021, as the first subscription service which offered “exclusive access to premium features” on a monthly subscription basis.
He wrote about the initiative in a tweet, “The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive.”
The Blue Check designation stirs up feelings of a two-class system on the microblogging site. Musk rhetorically asked if the platform is “dying,” pointing out that the top ten most followed accounts don’t tweet too much. This cohort boasts millions of followers each but is relatively inactive. The members include former President Barack Obama, singers Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Rihanna.
He also called for an edit feature.
Twitter is one of the companies that have bucked the return-to-office and hybrid work models. At the start of the pandemic, then CEO Jack Dorsey said that people can work from home ‘forever.’ Noticing the empty offices, Musk mused that perhaps the San Francisco skyscraper should be turned into a homeless shelter in light of the massive homelessness situation in the city.
Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter, said about Musk’s involvement with the company, “I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmusk to our board! Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board.” You have to wonder about what Agrawal is currently thinking, as the world’s richest man is taking charge, at least online for now.