Elon's Magic Touch Too Good For Twitter
Twitter's influence can be seen and felt every day, yet the company feels under monetized.
Elon Musk has shown a magic touch when it comes to business. Can he improve Twitter's money making abilities?
Is running a social media platform the best use of Elon Musk's time?
The Influence of Twitter
You’re watching CNBC, the network anchor is discussing a tweet made by one of Wall Street’s influential money managers. In the tweet, the money manager questions a publicly traded company’s ability to grow its subscriber base. The stock, which closed nearly unchanged the previous day, is down 10% in premarket trading. Next, you turn the TV to ESPN, where the anchors are analyzing a tweet made by a professional athlete regarding his contract negotiation. Before the tweet, no one had heard from the player about his contract demands, now it's the leading topic of discussion throughout sports. You then turn to your local news to find out what’s happening in your area. Your favorite local news network is displaying a tweet from the local authorities explaining a shooting and an investigation in your area. Thanks to Twitter and the news, you know to avoid the area on your way to work. You pull out your phone to see a new Twitter notification. Twitter notifies you that a celebrity who you really admire, liked one of your tweets. The notice causes you to experience something close to an orgasm.
Twitter ($TWTR) has never made the revenue to reflect how influential it is, but it is a powerful platform. I believe if Twitter’s management, whoever that is in the next few months, is ever able to financially exploit the full influence of Twitter, shareholders - assuming it’s still a public company - will mark Twitter as one of their greatest investments of all time.
The Magic Touch
Two week ago, after it was announced that Tesla ($TSLA) CEO, Elon Musk, purchased 9 percent of Twitter, I started putting thoughts down about why Twitter’s current CEO and board of directors should be terrified. Before I could get my thoughts together, Elon made his offer to purchase Twitter, which was not a surprise.
Elon’s relationship with Tesla began with him being an investor in the car company started by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. But for as long as many people can remember, Elon has been the guy at Tesla. While most of us are working as hard as we can to realize one big win in life, Musk got his first big win in the 90’s with PayPal ($PYPL). Tesla is his follow up album, and it’s also a hit. When you add in SpaceX and The Boring company, it’s what Snoop Dog said about Drake, “That mother f_cker don’t miss.”
Musk will probably win with Twitter as well, if he’s able to acquire it. I’ve thought for the past several years that Twitter is a different animal, but that it’s not being monetized to its fullest potential. But I admit, that I have no idea how to better monetize the platform. I’m sure Elon will figure out a way to do it. But is that the best use of his time? I think Elon running Twitter is a terrible waste of a brilliant mind.
A Chance to Make Another Big Impact
Over the last few years, I’ve been listening to the life stories of people who had suffered life changing spinal cord injuries. Some people's injuries were caused by a very freak accident, while others, unfortunately, ended up injured after being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. No matter how the injury occurred, I always feel something when the story gets to the day everything changed. Most of the interviews I’ve listened to are from adults, who have lived with their injury for a decade or more. And many of them don’t prioritize walking over living the best life they can now, but some of them have admitted to keeping an eye on what Elon is working on with Neuralink. One of Neuralink's goals is to help people with paralysis regain their independence. When I heard about the Twitter bid, I instantly thought about Neuralink. Of the many projects Musk is working on, Neuralink is the one that I root for the most.
SpaceX is another Musk project I actively root for. I would love to see Musk get mankind to Mars while I’m still alive. I’ll admit that several years ago, I thought Elon Musk was out of his mind with the talk of going to Mars. But I’ve come around, and I consider myself a Space X cheerleader now.
What I’d hate to see happen is Neuralink stall or Space X’s advancements slow down, because Elon Musk has to spend time testifying to congress, to explain why shitty people are saying and doing shitty things on Twitter. This Twitter thread by @yishan does a great job of explaining why running a social network is difficult. Does Elon Musk really want the headache of running Twitter?
Twitter isn’t perfect, it’s actually very ugly most times, but that’s not Twitter's fault, that’s society, and there’s no fixing society. But I love Twitter. I love that it’s customizable. We decide who we want to hear from, and we determine what news or entertainment makes it on our feed. I love that Twitter is part broadcast system and part personal communication tool. You can broadcast that you've done something special, and then communicate with someone one-on-one to discuss the special thing you did. I love that Twitter cuts out middlemen. Fans of Elon Musk don’t have to wait for a NY Times piece to find out what Elon is up to, the easiest way to find out what Elon Musk is doing, or thinking, is by following him on Twitter. I love that Twitter is in real time. If something is happening in the world, someone is tweeting about it. Twitter can be a toxic place at times, but it does have some great qualities.
Elon is highly intelligent, highly motivated, and an ultimate winner in business. If there’s anyone who can figure out how to maximize Twitter's revenue, it’s Elon Musk. But I’m hoping he loses the battle for Twitter. I think there are better companies, with better ideas that can benefit from Elon's magic touch.