Musk, Twitter, money, free speech and global domination

by April 16, 2022 0 comments

In 1995, Elon Musk co-founded the Global Link Information Network to help newspapers with city guides using the power of the early Internet. That became Zip2 and was taken over by Compaq. Then he tried to create an online bank from scratch. His finally merged with Confinity to give birth to Paypal. When Musk exited Paypal, it created a handful of billionaires and many millionaires.

The influence continues: That also created the Paypal Mafia which became one of the most influential groups in Silicon Valley, being involved with the founding of YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp, Palantir, Yammer, Founders Club, Slide and many others and had a key role in the funding of many companies like Facebook.

Tesla was founded in 2003 but took off later only with the involvement of Musk. What’s more important is that Musk masterminded a Tesla charging network grid and supercharged large battery technology. It is this ecosystem that took EVs to the next level. SpaceX became the first private space agency of its kind in history and he plans to break much more ground with ventures like The Boring Company, Neuralink and OpenAI.

Twitter the underperformer: It doesn’t matter whether Musk launches something or acquires something. He has a magical touch and takes anything to a greater height. So why does Musk want to acquire Twitter and what can he do with it? Well the simple reason is that out of all of social media sites, it’s the biggest underperformer.

There is no doubt that Twitter is the most influential social media network in history. I am talking about who uses it, its politics, its ability to influence elections and topple global leaders. It can even bring any business crashing down and make a celebrity out of unknown people.

But it is probably the biggest underperformer. Facebook is nearing 3 billion users. The others in the 2 billion club are YouTube and WhatsApp. Instagram and WeChat have crossed 1 billion. TikTok was severely hit by the US-India bans but is on its way back. Even Snapchat and more recently Telegram have crossed 500 million. Not many common global citizens have heard of Reddit, but even they are ahead of Twitter, which is in the region of 400 million and there are allegations that even that number is boosted by bots.

The following companies have a valuation of a trillion dollars: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Meta and Tesla. In comparison, Musk wanted to buy Twitter at a valuation of just $43 billion. Apple crossed a valuation of $3 trillion. What that means on a good day for Apple and a bad day for Twitter: Apple is worth more than 70 Twitters. Clearly Twitter is not in the big league.

Making Twitter more inclusive: The reason for that is that Twitter caters to a very small minority of world leaders, journalists, activists and Left-leaning influencers. If you look at all the shadow banning, suspensions, banning and action, then it leads only in one direction.

The Left ruled till the 2000s, but after that the Right has taken over and that’s where Twitter’s problems with inclusivity lies. The rise of Narendra Modi and Donald Trump, Brexit and the resurgence of the Right in Europe. It all points to a populace which probably is already more than half Right. So then why is one social media site catering solely to the Left? You can’t antagonize more than half of the globe and expect world domination.

It’s not the algorithms, but the humans: Everyone with money is free to buy an iPhone and Facebook desperately tries to get almost everyone into its fold. That’s why they are so big and Twitter is so small. Some point to the faceless algorithms that do most of Twitter’s work. But that is far from the case. Who makes the algorithm and how? An Indian social media site can make an algorithm to suit the Congress or the BJP. In America the Democrats or the Republicans. You can make any algorithm to suit any ideology. You can make any algorithm support or oppose conspiracy theories in a feed.

The messiah of free speech? Then there is also the issue of free speech. What gives you, a private company, the right to decide what is the truth and what is fake news or not and what ideology suits mankind? You are the vessel and not the ambrosia inside. While it is an open secret that Silicon Valley leans Left, Twitter leans so far Left that it has probably fallen off the cliff.

Peter Thiel is probably the only tech billionaire who openly supports Republicans, almost all the others are Democrats. Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Musk are the few who at least try to keep to the centre. If Musk does indeed manage to take over Twitter (he will try to overcome their poison pill in the coming days) he has the wisdom, acumen and good sense to veer Twitter to the Centre. If he succeeds in doing that, then not only will it become a beacon of free speech but users from all ideologies will flock to it. The first thing that will do is boost the user count and with the kind of amazing brand value and recall that Twitter has, it could finally cross a billion users.

The second step would be monetizing that and you can be sure that Musk can make it happen. He is a genius who attracts the best talent. Twitter’s annual revenue is just $5 billion. That can be ramped up by many degrees. Musk takes over Twitter, turns it around, increases its valuation by more than 10-15 times and his personal wealth crosses half-a-trillion dollars? You can bet on that actually happening?

From the 1990s to the 2010s, Musk is coming out with one winner after another and turning losers into winners. There’s no reason why that should change. Musk and Twitter could well be the success story of the 2020s.

Reviving Twitter.  Making a tonne of money. Becoming a free speech messiah. Musk can kill three birds with one stone if he succeeds.

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