Elon & Twitter
Three things combined this week to create one epic news in the social media sphere. Elon Musk bhai bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter and became in an instant the largest stakeholder in this – one of the most important social channels in the world this at this point in time.
So, I decided to chime in my 2 paise worth of say on this whole deal which I feel is a big slap on this app – Twitter – like the one you see in the retro Batman & Robin series with the text “Kapow!”
It all started with a series of tweets (irony – Elon using Twitter to cut it to size) on the very hotly debated topic of Twitter and its free speech policy. (While in my frank opinion, Twitter has a strong bias towards the left liberal opinions and their definition of free speech) He then posed a question on whether the world needs an alternative – and in his unique style ran a Twitter poll with the disclaimer that the result of this poll will have consequences. He has done similar things earlier – One thing I know is that Elon – though his engagement on social media might at times sound pretty juvenile, there is a thought process or a method behind all his social media comments. He is in my books – one of the most significant humans in the last 200 years that has changed human life – along the likes of Einstein, Edison, Jobs, Newton, Van Gogh, DaVinci – I hope you get the drift.
And two days back – the news broke that he has taken a 9.2% stake in this app. My reading is this. I think he understands the power of Twitter in our lives today. And he probably was not impressed by the random nature of free speech policy implementation. And with his staggering net worth, he realized that between a capitalist world and a publicly traded company he could actually have a say. I am sure he must have pondered building his alternative – I mean this is the same guy who started building tunnels in LA because he was pissed with the traffic there. But then he realized that Twitter – in spite being this monopoly in its field was not worth a whole lot. He could just use his billions to buy a stake and influence the way the company is run. Building an alternative would be a huge challenge – get the app out is probably the easiest part – get people to use it and migrate would be a process that would need years. Surely not worth his time when his money could solve it in a matter of days.
And his tweet announcing this news, shows that this investment is not something that is important to him. It’s just he throwing his pennies to make a point.
And to rub it into the people running Twitter – he then runs a poll if the people would like an Edit button. As a Twitter user for more than a decade – let me tell you – this Edit button is the most fundamental feature the has been debated for a zillion time. It’s probably a trivial feature to implement for the folks at Twitter, but they have strongly desisted this for the past decade giving umpteen reasons as why that would be the most UnTwitter feature to roll out.
But the fact that within a day of Elon buying the stake – Twitter announces that they are working on the feature – it provides how Elon has set the ground rules with Twitter – he basically delivered a tight slap at Twitter by making them dance to his tunes in a very public way. I mean – he could have prioritized the many other ills that exists with Twitter – like fake news, their banning policies – but no – he picked the most requested feature which has been denied by Twitter for a decade and got them to deliver as his first demand.
Also, the Tweets from the senior folks of Twitter have been rather kind to his buying the stake. He also is now on the Twitter board. The tweets are all about how they are looking forwards to one their most important influencer as well as their strong critic. The fact they used the word critic I find is significant because it provides a subtle insight into how the first few days might have been working with Elon.