Could Twitter go bust? What Elon Musk has said about social media platform’s finances since taking over

The Space X founder purchased Twitter for $44bn in October

Elon Musk’s Twitter account displayed on a screen are seen (NurPhoto via Getty Images)Elon Musk’s Twitter account displayed on a screen are seen (NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Elon Musk’s Twitter account displayed on a screen are seen (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Elon Musk has delivered a bleak assesment of Twitter’s future just three weeks after taking over the social media company.

The Space X founder and Telsa CEO purchased the popular website for $44bn in October. He has since made sweeping changes after taking over as the owner of Twitter including cutting around 50% of the company’s workforce.

Musk held a meeting with staff for the first time since taking over the company on Thursday (10 November) it came after he warned that Twitter might not “survive” the looming economic downturn. He later described it as “quite the day”, before adding: “Usage of Twitter continues to rise. One thing is for sure: it isn’t boring!”.

The Twitter owner claimed that the company had hit an “all-time high of active users”. It comes amid the launch of a new subscription service - Twitter Blue - which allows users to purchase a verification blue tick for a monthly fee.

Musk held an “all hands” meeting with Twitter staff on Thursday (10 November). Here is what he said:

Could Twitter go bust?

The new Twitter owner held a meeting with staff on Thursday afternoon, having sent an email round on Wednesday (9 November). It comes after he put an end to home working and ordered staff to return to the office.

The “all hands” meeting was the first since he took over the social media platform, before that, many were relying on the billionaire Tesla CEO’s public tweets for clues about Twitter’s future. “Sorry that this is my first email to the whole company, but there is no way to sugarcoat the message,” wrote Musk, before he described a dire economic climate for businesses like Twitter that rely almost entirely on advertising to make money.

“Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn,” he said. “We need roughly half of our revenue to be subscription.”

At the staff meeting, Mr Musk said some “exceptional” employees could seek an exemption from his return-to-office order but that others who did not like it could quit, according to an employee at the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity out of a concern for job security. The employee also said Musk appeared to downplay employee concerns about how a pared-back Twitter workforce was handling its obligations to maintain privacy and data security standards, saying as CEO of Tesla he knew how that worked.

Regulators in the US have now said they are watching events at Twitter with “deep concern” and warned Musk that no chief executive is “above the law”. A number of advertisers are said to have paused advertising with Twitter – the company’s biggest source of revenue – over the ongoing disarray at the firm.

Elon Musk’s Twitter account displayed on a screen are seen (NurPhoto via Getty Images)Elon Musk’s Twitter account displayed on a screen are seen (NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Elon Musk’s Twitter account displayed on a screen are seen (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Has the Twitter exodus continued?

Twitter has continued to lose high-level leaders responsible for data privacy, cybersecurity and complying with regulations. Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of trust and safety was the latest to depart the company.

Roth was a previously little-known executive who became the public face of Twitter’s content moderation after Mr Musk took over and who had been praised by him for defending Twitter’s ongoing efforts to fight harmful misinformation and hate speech. An executive confirmed Mr Roth’s resignation to co-workers on an internal messaging board seen by The Associated Press.

Twitter’s ongoing exodus includes the company’s chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran, and chief information security officer Lea Kissner, who tweeted on Thursday that “I’ve made the hard decision to leave Twitter”. An executive last week said Twitter was cutting roughly 50% of its workforce, which numbered 7,500 earlier this year.

It has also been reported that Robin Wheeler, Twitter’s head of sales, also resigned on Thursday.

What is Musk’s “priority” for Twitter?

Musk told employees the “priority over the past 10 days” was to develop and launch Twitter’s new subscription service for 7.99 dollars (£6.84) a month that includes a blue check mark next to the name of paid members — the mark was previously only for verified accounts.

The project has had a rocky rollout with an onslaught of newly bought fake accounts this week impersonating high-profile figures such as basketball star LeBron James and the drug company Eli Lilly to post false information or offensive jokes.

In a second email to employees, Musk said the “absolute top priority” over the coming days is to suspend “bots/trolls/spam” exploiting the verified accounts. But Twitter now employs far fewer people to help him do that.

Confusion as Twitter Blue vanishes

Confusion over the direction of Twitter as a platform has continued after the sign-up option for its Twitter Blue subscription disappeared barely a day after going live and grey “Official” badges returned less than two days after Musk ordered their removal.

On Friday morning, the option to sign up for Twitter Blue, which gives users a blue verification badge if they pay £6.99 a month, had vanished from Twitter’s iOS app despite only being introduced on Thursday. At the same time, new grey Official badges for large organisations began reappearing on some Twitter profiles less than two days after Musk halted their introduction hours after their own initial launch, calling it “an aesthetic nightmare”.

Twitter’s official support account said the grey badges had been reintroduced to help “combat impersonation” on the site. The grey badges had been created as a way of differentiating between verified accounts that had been awarded a blue tick previously by Twitter after being confirmed as authentic and those which had been bought under the new Twitter Blue scheme.

Meanwhile, a number of fake accounts posing as authentic, high-profile figures by using blue checkmarks gained through Twitter Blue have already been reported on the platform. US-based PR strategist, Max Burns, said he had seen fake accounts with the verified blue tick badge bought through Twitter Blue posing as support accounts for real airlines and asking customers who were trying to contact them on Twitter to direct message the fake accounts instead.

Related topics: