Elon Musk’s move to charge Twitter’s roughly 400 000 verified users $8 per month to have a blue tick (Twitter Blue subscription) indicating that their account is verified, and also to weed out fake accounts, will contribute about $3.2 million (R61 million) per month to the company’s income.
Current and future changes and additions to Twitter include an edit button for U.S. users through Twitter Blue subscription has already been introduced. This enables users to modify their tweets for up to 30 minutes after posting. The feature can be used to add hashtags, explain or correct a mistake in a tweet, or amend a small typo, among other edits. The edits are logged and visible to everyone. Users are only able to change their tweets five times within the 30-minute window.
Analysts have reported that the edit feature would appeal to about 5–10 percent of the 240 million daily active users who say this is expected to add about $75 million to $150 million in annual revenue, increasing revenue by 1.5 to 3 percent in 2023. Musk also plans to introduce a similar monetisation model to YouTube.
Twitter has experienced a fall in revenue due to activist groups pressurising advertisers, “even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists,” Musk said. Recently when several high-profile users changed their names and pictures to match Elon Musk’s, Twitter said it will crack down on the practice. “Any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying parody will be permanently suspended,” Musk wrote in a Twitter post.
“Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning,” he said. This will be ‘clearly identified’ as a condition for signing up to the company’s paid subscription service Twitter Blue, Musk said. He added that any name change at all will cause the temporary loss of a verified check mark.
Twitter Blue subscribers can now post 42-minute videos at 1080 resolution, and in a month the limit could be increased. It has also been reported that a number of Twitter employees were selling verification status’ badges behind the scenes under previous management and the company is expected to investigate this.
Musk has said, regarding the company’s reduction in workforce, that Twitter has been making massive losses and new revenue models are needed to recover the company’s losses currently at about $4m/day. Regarding staff layoffs, he said staff were offered three months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.
Overall, Musk has a formidable reputation in software development and his ability to clearly anticipate user needs ahead of most, as seen with his very first venture, Zip2.
This was the first business founded by Musk which provided a searchable business directory described as an internet version of the Yellow Pages telephone directory with maps included. It was bought by Compaq for $307 million.
Musk then founded an online financial services company, X.com which later became PayPal, specialising in transferring money online. The online auction business eBay brought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
In these years Musk was relatively unknown. In 2002 he founded SpaceX, and during that time, he was regularly criticised in the media when his rocket launches failed. But after a number of failures he has turned SpaceX into a NASA alternative.
But he has experienced much more media criticism with Tesla. And to this day he receives significantly more negative than positive media coverage, possibly also contributed to by some long-established big motor brands.
So it is natural that with the take-over of Twitter he is, by default, in most of the media’s cross-hairs.
Based on Musk’s past successes in software development, there is every chance that he will turn Twitter into a profitable and more credible platform. And his ability to ignore and even be positively motivated by the media’s personal and business negative coverage, he has the trait of a successful entrepreneur that leads rather than follows.