Twitter owned, run by Musk may be bonanza for his expanding business empire
Published: May 10, 2022 01:48 PM Updated: May 10, 2022 01:41 PM
Tesla's founder Elon Musk inks a deal to purchase Twitter with $44 billion in cash. Photo: website
Tesla's founder Elon Musk inks a deal to purchase Twitter with $44 billion in cash. Photo: website

Last month, Elon Musk, the richest man on earth, clinched a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Musk pledged he will take one of the world's most important social media platforms back "from Wall Street" and make it a private business. Over recent days, the charismatic "futurist entrepreneur" has repeatedly stressed that his goal is to bolster free speech on the platform and work to unlock Twitter's "extraordinary potential."

Good for him. Considering the outsized social and political influence of Twitter, which now hosts more than 220 million active users throughout the world, Musk obviously has his eyes fixated on the future of the premium media platform, and possibly the unexplored huge value of the social network company.

While Twitter is smaller than its peers like Facebook and TikTok in the number of total subscribers, it is increasingly used by the world's major politicians, renowned public figures, activists, celebrities, journalists and ordinary social media lovers. Some have predicted Twitter could greet a period of rapid development following Musk's purchase, and ultimately, the company could steadily climb the ladder of financial value, worth at least $100 billion or even more.

Announcing the acquisition deal after Twitter board of directors agreed to sell the venture to him, Musk said he would try to make the social media platform "better than ever by enhancing the products with new features, making the algorithms open source to the public to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans."

Musk has more than 83 million followers on Twitter which he has used over the years for everything from discussing his companies, his observations and thoughts about our living world, to debating or fighting with the politicians and industrial regulators.

Like Tesla's electric vehicles and SpaceX's rockets and satellites, Musk has incrementally shored up his public persona as a person with a vision for the future, and he can do real and great things in the digital age.

In the initial stage after the acquisition deal is completed, possibly late this year, Musk, chief executive officers of both Tesla and SpaceX, is most likely to add one more CEO title on his business card. Some media outlets have reported that he will act as the interim chief executive of Twitter for a number of months or years, before handing the title to a well-weathered professional business manager.

In addition to open source the social network's algorithm, which is significant to make users get to understand the platform's basic principle of content recommendation, Musk has promised to make some changes to its content policies, such as adding an edit feature for users, and introducing less content moderation to allow controversial tweets to ensure free speech on the social network. Musk also believes he can increase business revenue through targeted subscriptions that give the paying users a better experience like an ad-free version of Twitter.

The prospect that Twitter will soon be owned and run by Musk has drawn discontent, disapproval and critique from the mainstream American media, where the pundits seem unhappy to see Musk to keep expanding his business empire. The thought that one of the world's most influential social media networks will fall into the hands of the world's richest man is provoking many of his critics to the edge, who allege that hands-off management by Musk will lead to vulgar content and even hate speech on Twitter. His critics claim that Twitter faces the risk that unfettered free speech on social media could become "very ugly."

The speed that Musk has moved to acquire the social network since early April had many in investment circles spinning too. From nowhere, he is now the absolute "darling" or "king" of the internet. Musk himself has said the deal is not about the "economics." Yes, it is about public influence. The White House did not comment much on the takeover, but the outgoing spokesperson Jen Psaki has told reporters: "No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president (Biden) has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms."

By acquiring Twitter, Musk will almost certainly build up his personal prestige within cyberspace including attracting a growing number of fans on a global scale. Everybody knows that broadly honed prestige on social media could be easily translated to streams of business revenues. Musk may continue to propagate his no-carbon green vision for the world which will enable him to set up more Tesla giga-factories and sell more Tesla cars . And, his star-link satellite relayed broadband service will find more customers too.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.