Home Technology Elon Musk didn’t kill Twitter

Elon Musk didn’t kill Twitter

Elon Musk didn’t kill Twitter


Twitter is a catastrophe.

However that already.

Why is Twitter a catastrophe?

You most likely suppose that, too: The standard suspect is Elon Musk, who has spent the 12 months he’s owned Twitter doing his greatest to drive away customers, advertisers, and any remaining sense of enjoyable or utility the service used to have. (He’s additionally inexplicably renamed it “X,” which I’ll point out right here solely to appease Vox’s wonderful copy editors.)

However I’ve spent a number of time desirous about Twitter’s historical past not too long ago — as a result of I’m the host of The Twitter Fantasy, Vox Media’s latest installment of its Land of the Giants podcast sequence, which launches right this moment. And I don’t suppose Elon is the correct reply for this whodunit.

Elon has undoubtedly, demonstrably made Twitter worse. However I’d argue that Twitter’s current is a direct consequence of its shambolic origin story, the place its co-founders and funders couldn’t resolve what it must be. And that once they lastly did resolve, they set themselves up for eventual disappointment.

“Some individuals would take a look at it and say, ‘Oh God, that is like short-form e mail’ … ‘That is the way forward for communications’ … ‘That is the general public sq.,’” says Betaworks CEO John Borthwick, who offered a number of startups to Twitter in its early years and had a ringside seat for its early rising pains. “Twitter didn’t truly state what they had been. And they also may very well be many issues to many various individuals.”

What Twitter and its traders lastly did resolve is that the corporate could be the following Fb: a venture-backed social community fueled by its customers’ content material and supported by promoting. And that didn’t appear loopy within the late 2000s: The temporary historical past of social networks up till that point was that every one was greater and extra beneficial than the final, and Twitter was following Fb, which was already supposedly value billions.

The issue is that by the point Twitter went public in 2013, it was already clear that it wasn’t going to be Fb. It wasn’t going to have something like Fb’s ginormous consumer base, and it didn’t have Fb’s money-printing promoting machine. So in case you wished to put money into a fast-growing, money-making web firm, you invested in Fb, not Twitter. Which meant Twitter’s inventory languished whereas Fb’s skyrocketed, and by the point Musk confirmed up and was prepared to overpay for Twitter in 2022, nobody had a greater concept what to do with the corporate.

And that’s a part of the story we inform on this episode, which you’ll take heed to under.

It’s additionally not the entire story. And, I ought to level out, it’s not a narrative everybody agrees with. Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, for example, thinks the important thing second in Twitter’s historical past was its failed try to purchase Instagram, months earlier than Fb truly did purchase the startup for $1 billion.

If Twitter had pulled off the deal, Costolo advised me, “we’d’ve gained… [and] that most likely would’ve modified the course of the web in some necessary approach.”

Even nonetheless, Twitter managed — typically regardless of itself — to be a basically necessary firm, and it’s not going away anytime quickly. So this has been a tremendously entertaining podcast sequence to place collectively. I hope you prefer it, and even in case you don’t I’d love to listen to your suggestions. Please hear above or on your favourite app, and drop me a line right here along with your questions and commentary.



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