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Elon Musk’s brainpower could help Twitter but not in the way he thinks

Elon Musk defines himself as an “absolute freedom of speech” who loves strong debates. So, in that spirit, let’s boldly point out that the entrepreneur’s original approach of buying Twitter for $ 43 billion and moving the private messaging company was stupid.

Presenting a hostile, vague, unfunded offer, with a low ball To the Twitter board, While describing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulators with whom He had a previous entanglement As a “bastard”, is definitely considered unconventional. The move was more of a troll exercise than a serious attempt to buy the company. The result was to incite Twitter’s board to launch a Protection of poison pills It will automatically dilute Musk’s shareholdings if it buys more than 15%.

But you do not become the richest man in the world if you remain wrong over time. in brief Musk put together a financing package Largely leveraged The personal fortune of $ 260 billion – This may allow him to soon launch a more conventional takeover bid for all Twitter shareholders. There is no doubt that the financial entrepreneur, who has created two of the world’s most amazing companies in Tesla and SpaceX, can electrify the dying Twitter with shakes of energy, wild imagination and hype. But the worrying impression is that Mesek seems mostly uninterested in the area where he can help Twitter the most (rethinking its business model) and mostly interested in the area where he might cause harm (eliminating content moderation).

The main problem with the 16-year-old platform is that like any creative yet restless teenager, he is still searching for his true purpose in life. Does it want to become a public company with high profits? Or does it aspire to become the digital city square in the world? Does he want to maximize freedom of expression? Or does it prefer to minimize users’ exposure to harassment, manipulation and abuse? It goes without saying that all of these goals are appropriate.

Since the listing in 2013, Twitter has struggled. Or, in the more cruel words of Ben Thompson, Author of the Stratechery Newsletter, “Twitter’s business stinks.” With 217 million active users daily, it has no Facebook or YouTube scale. Even its short and temporary messaging service does not match Instagram’s attraction to advertisers. It no longer produces much buzz among the younger generations. And the company is still reluctant to set up a full subscription model for fear of killing its user base.

According to Thompson’s calculations, Twitter has raised $ 4.4 billion in 19 rounds of funding since its inception in 2006. But it has lost a cumulative $ 861 million in its nine years as a public company. The fact that one of the most creative entrepreneurs in the world will help to re-imagine the business will surely be a victory. Thompson suggests that fresh management can open up the company’s technology infrastructure to outside customers, and allow Twitter to appear as a “new messaging protocol of insane value” to the Internet.

Unlike the executives of Twitter itself, Musk is also a master of messaging. It has almost 83 million followers, making it one of the followers The 10 most popular tweets. Spectacular footage of his SpaceX missions, combined with crypto memes and silly humor (“69.420% of the statistics are false”), provide a tiny digital to followers.

The problem is that Musk has the planet to save and Mars to explore and does not seem to have much time for Twitter funds. “I do not care about the economy,” he says, which should give his bankers a break for thought. Its main task is to maximize freedom of expression by allowing users to post anything illegal. “The truth is very important to me, as a pathologist,” he says.

However, Musk does not seem to have thought deeply about how to manage Twitter based on tweet after tweet. He broadly declares that maximum freedom of expression reduces the risk of civilization. Widespread applause. But then, Twitter also described itself as “the Freedom of Expression wing of the Freedom of Expression Party.” He then clashed with porn water, cyberbullying and terrorist extremists. “We tried it. It didn’t work, Ayalon,” a former Twitter official said.

The place where Musk will be able to apply his brain power beneficially is to find a better governance model for social media companies, combining financial incentives and social responsibility. Governments have a vital role to play in defining freedom of expression and in protecting responsible social media companies. But we do not want them to mess with the content. However, profit-driven companies have a massive interest in reducing moderation.

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has shown that non-profit, self-governing communities can work around the world on a scale. Intriguingly, Twitter has also experimented with allowing users’ panels to manage content. The ideal may be something similar Ownership model of 50 + 1 in German football clubs, Where devoted fans can actually overtake commercial investors. It would take a huge act of philanthropy by Musk to give equal powers to Twitter users. But maybe he will want to dwell on it while he watches a football game, after checking out His Tesla Giga plant In Berlin.

john.thornhill@ft.com

Elon Musk’s brainpower could help Twitter but not in the way he thinks Source link Elon Musk’s brainpower could help Twitter but not in the way he thinks

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