It has been one year since Elon Musk first floated plans for a potential take-over of the microblogging social media platform Twitter and some six months since the deal was finalized. In the two quarters since Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur known for a diverse portfolio of innovative corporations—Tesla Automotive, SpaceX and The Boring Company among them—first walked into Twitter’s San Francisco HQ carrying a sink, much has changed for ‘the internet’s town square.’
From introducing Twitter Blue verification to cutting 75% of its workforce, analysts and pundit have seldom struggled for new and ongoing signs that Twitter is falling apart under its new management.
The X App Holy Grail
One idea that had been floated by Musk over the preceding months was the idea of eventually turning Twitter into a so-called X App. These platforms, of which the most popular by far is China’s WeChat, act as an all-in-one internet portal for users.
For citizens of the PRC, WeChat serves as a messaging, phone and video calling app, such as WhatsApp or Telegram. It also doubles up as a social network, giving users the ability to post and share photos, videos and comments to a global feed, and is also a source for long-form content consumption, with many articles and longer videos shared, accessed and consumed there. Crucially, WeChat is also the dominant means by which people make, send and receive payments—roles typically occupied by Venmo and CashApp in the US.
The value in establishing a true X App in the anglophone sphere would be tremendous, but many question the likelihood of this ever being feasible. After all, X Apps have predominantly come about in regions where internet infrastructure and smartphone adoption rolled out more slowly. It is for this reason that it has become increasingly commonplace in certain Southeast Asian nations to ship phones with Facebook, with its diverse array of features already installed.`
Facebook is an important piece of this puzzle, as Zuckerberg’s Meta corporation—the umbrella for Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp—which can attest to over 2 billion registered users, is widely thought to have attempted to become an X App. Though this pitch faltered before the constant competition, fragmentation, and lost revenue from advertising.
Thus, with the news on April 4th that Musk had in fact changed Twitter’s corporate listing to ‘X-Corp’, many wonder if this is but the latest in an ongoing series of missteps. Though perhaps for Musk, one of the founders of PayPal, the X App dream has a narrower and more achievable focus. Rumored new partnerships with providers operating in the cryptocurrency space are highly suggestive of where this is all leading—that Twitter, itself, could before long incorporate crypto finance tools. While this news will have little direct impact on engaged investors with established preferences for trading online through reliable and leading exchanges, one `cannot underestimate the optics` of these new developments. After all, while Twitter is the smallest of the legacy ‘big three’ social media platforms, it has always exerted an outsized influence due to its perceived centrality as a hub for public discourse online.