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Why Is Elon Musk Buying Twitter?

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Elon Musk wearing a cowboy hat

Elon Musk loves Twitter. But there’s a bit more to it than just tech romance.

If you’re a regular Twitter user, you’re probably well aware that Elon is a prominent figure on the platform and a fan. With a huge audience of 83.8m followers, he tweets constantly with a mixture of genuine business updates, memes, jokes, theories, discussion points and the odd mention of cryptocurrency Dogecoin (which sends temporarily sends the value into overdrive).

His tweets drive adoration for him and his brands and at the same time, divisive debates and business drama.

One badly-received tweet on the topic of Tesla once knocked £11bn off its share price.  He was also sued for defamation following a tweet about a cave rescue diver who took offense at an insult from Musk.

But on the other side of the coin, Elon has amassed a legion of loyal fans who love to hear what the multi-billionaire engineer/businessman has to say about the state of the world or adore his portfolio of brands which include Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company.

The feeling from Twitter though isn’t exactly mutual.

Twitter’s initial response when Elon first purchased a stake in the social media giant was a defensive position, clarifying that no one could own more than 15% of it’s shares to avoid a takeover.

Their position has now changed, following a deal being agreed between the two parties, valued at £35 billion.

Twitter has clearly decided it needs to do something different from the business model route it is currently pursuing.

Elon wants to see Twitter fulfil its “extraordinary potential”, he says – and he’s apparently not even that interested in making money from it – he has lots of that already so can afford one or two business ventures to just cover their costs, or even lose money.

It’s no secret that Twitter hasn’t enjoyed the success of the likes of TikTok or Facebook, despite the millions of users and brands that live on it daily – Elon wants to change that and revamp the platforms business model, as well as protect free speech.

On the finance-side, Twitter earns most of it’s cash from running sponsored ads. Musk wants to change that and is looking at a subscription model. In a world where social media networks are ‘free’ (you ‘pay’ by giving access to some of your personal data), this could prove a challenge – but a freemium model isn’t impossible – look at YouTube or Spotify.

Elon is also a big cryptocurrency fan. He could use the platform to encourage or incentivise payment adoption in this sector.

And then there’s Elon himself.  The richest man in the world, a serial entrepreneur whose successes include PayPal and Tesla but an engineer at heart.  He likes to test, break rules and figure stuff out that no one else has – and has the financial freedom and drive to try things out with new business models and ventures that may or may not succeed.

There’s a reason why he declined to join Twitter’s board after buying a 9.2% stake in January – he didn’t want the responsibility.

Elon’s purchase of Twitter is likely to lead to a number of different trials around changes to the platform – changes he will no doubt share with Twitter audience to help gauge opinion.

One thing is clear, you’ll never get all Twitter users to agree on something – it’s the equivalent of the office floor, playground, town square or council meeting – but on a global scale. For every tweet supporting Elon’s purchase, is another saying it’s the worst thing to ever happen to the platform – but then again opposing views is what Twitter thrives on.

Never a dull moment in tech.

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