What is Elon Musk playing at?

7th Jun 2023

The problems of Twitter are fascinating to me as we had a once great product which is being fundamentally changed for the worse by one man.

Twitter hasn't worked for me for a few months now. I don't have loads of followers, but since Elon Musk has beaten his engineers into submission about how Twitter's internals should work, I get near enough no impressions, let alone engagement.

Whilst I know of several people that have either abandoned their accounts or totally deleted them in objection to how the man baby at the top of Twitter is running things, I think the remaining people that are still on Twitter are there because everyone else is still there. It still has the critical mass.

So what is going wrong?

Well, a lot of things. For an in depth going over of just how disastrous Elon Musk has been for the Twitter product, have a listen to the podcast Flipping the Bird from Wondery.

A brief summary would be:

What has allowed all of the above to happen? Well, Twitter is simply not a well run company. There are no other companies on planet earth that would have millions of dollars of revenue and be run by one dictator at the top surrounded by yes men. All nodding in agreement, with no one telling him that something might not be a good idea.

But I understand the yes men a bit here. We've got bills to pay, and yes men need to keep their wages coming in. They know that if they tell their erratic boss that his idea to charge any idiot $8 a month for a blue checkmark of authenticity, is exceptionally stupid, they're likely getting sacked.

So why has Elon Musk spent $44 Billion on a company only to run it into the ground?

There are a few theories. The first would be that he genuinely believed he could turn a profit, but it's gone badly wrong.

The second would be that he actually cares about free speech. I'd argue that this is not the case, as he's deleted the accounts of journalists that have published negative pieces about him, accusing them of doxxing him. It's also worth linking to Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales' tweet on the subject of free speech on the platform.

The third would be that he just wants Twitter as his personal fiefdom, and the users are just people to listen to his uninteresting commentary. I think this theory may carry some weight. He has snatched Twitter as his own, and he doesn't want to share his new toy with anyone else.

The fourth theory that has recently emerged is that he wants to drive those that do not agree with him politically, off of the platform. Twitter has been valuable to all sorts of political movements for organising and for spreading messages. It seems crazy that he would happily spend $44 billion dollars doing this, but we've got to remember that he is worth around $249 billion - and Tesla stock is currently doing very well.

What's next?

Time will tell. Twitter is not in a good state - many people's feeds are not giving them the value they used to get from the platform. I think we could indeed see a mass exodus to Thread, which as seen huge numbers of registrations on day one. If Twitter was to have a badly timed outage, it could be the push that sends a lot of users over the fence and onto Thread.