Following a month-long lawsuit fighting his acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk continues to make controversial decisions as the company’s newest CEO. Musk wrangles with Twitter’s inevitable bankruptcy though coincidentally leading his company, Tesla, to plummet in value.
Historically, Twitter has suffered poor profit margins, on average losing hundreds of millions a year. With Musk’s acquisition, the company is now saddled with $11-12 billion dollars of debt. Following his recent layoffs of roughly 3,700 employees, Twitter only continues to lose more money. Musk’s original plan consisted of thinning the amount of workers and introducing various new features to improve the site’s issue with bots, end the slow development of new features, and increase revenue.
Immediately after acquiring the company, Musk began to emphasize his desire for a platform run by free speech. Acting as a “public town square,” Musk hoped to see Twitter become a center for journalists and freedom of information. Adopting this philosophy, he unbanned various controversial public figures including former president Donald Trump and well-known influencer Andrew Tate.
Musk’s mission was met with various reactions from users, many worried about the hate speech and misinformation this would justify, while others were pleased. But for advertisers, it was nothing short of a nightmare. Not only had Musk unemployed the entire team responsible for giving advertisers an idea of what returns they would get on their investments, but brands became wary of a platform that had removed many of its policies that prevent hate speech.
As Twitter has grown to become a small platform with little return on ads and poor advertisement targeting, the top 100 advertisers at Twitter have all pulled their ads from the platform.
One of Musk’s newest additions to the platform is Twitter Blue, an $8 subscription that offers reduced ads and other quality-of-life features. Despite this, according to Mashable, research has shown that at most, the service only nets advertisers $2 per subscriber. If supported by continued growth and zero user cancellations of the service, the company would net $87 million per year at most.
Musk continues to add controversial features to the platform, including a view count and verification marks that signify a user’s subscription to Twitter Blue. Originally, verification signified the validity of accounts. Additionally, Musk has banned links that direct to other social media platforms.
As an already small social media platform, Musk had hoped to further prevent users from leaving for other platforms, rather than outcompete them. However, eliminating competitors from Twitter rather than improving the platform alone is a sign of declining platform losing droves of people.
Many artists depend on sites like Carrd and Linktree to direct traffic from their Twitter page to online shops or commission details. Many Twitter-based artists were outraged at this change, as this removed one of their main sources of income. To the artist community on the platform, it seems a nonsensical decision that only serves to harm them and their business.
As both Tesla and Twitter continue to plummet in value, Musk continues to post more and more controversial statements on his Twitter account; comparing himself to Neo from the Matrix, and Batman, while sharing various anti-LGBTQ+ and questionable political posts.
Supporters of his automotive company, Tesla, are largely upset with Musk’s actions on Twitter, which have begun to indirectly harm the price of Tesla’s stock. Even though Musk separately manages the two companies, Tesla has been reported in surveys to have dropped in positive image across both left and right demographics.
It is unsure what Musk plans to do with his ownership of Twitter and Tesla. While Musk claimed he would abide by the results of the poll to step down as CEO, it is debatable whether it will be possible to find a successor for the struggling platform, or whether Musk truly plans to find one. Supporters and opponents of Musk both wish to see him step down as CEO of Twitter in order to preserve both his and Tesla’s image.