After months of back-and-forth, legal showdowns, and anticipation, Elon Musk now officially owns Web2’s largest microblogging platform, Twitter.
The saga began back in April when Musk revealed his bid to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, amounting to roughly $44 billion. While everyone was initially skeptical of his intentions, mostly due to Musk’s known penchant for changing his mind, the deal has finally closed.
As Musk walked into Twitter headquarters Thursday morning carrying a sink, the SpaceX and Tesla chief announced his newest purchase with a 7-second video noting, “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” Shortly after, news broke that Musk fired Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and several other top executives.
For crypto enthusiasts, Musk’s legion of followers, and Web3 proponents, this highly-anticipated acquisition was a moment to celebrate, and rightfully so. The eight-month ordeal was no less than an epic roller-coaster ride, wherein Musk offered to buy, changed his mind, made another U-turn, changed his mind again, and finally bought the social media giant.
There has been ample speculation about Musk’s true intentions behind buying Twitter. While some claim that this move lays the foundation for a truly decentralized social network, others (especially political supporters) believe that it will bring an end to censorship and promote free speech. Then there are those who believe that this acquisition is part of Musk’s broader vision of a new Web5 ecosystem that Twitter’s ex-CEO Jack Dorsey has been hinting at for quite some time now.
The way forward for Twitter is yet uncertain, but many Twitteratis and blockchain proponents have their hopes high on the expectation that Musk will deliver more innovation and eventually transform the platform for the better.
A US-Based “Super App” In the Making?
If you have followed the Twitter-Musk saga from the beginning, you might be aware that the tech billionaire initially changed his mind due to the fact that Twitter had allegedly lied about the number of fake users (bot accounts) on the platform. While Elon urged Twitter’s representatives to disclose valid documents to prove the authenticity of user accounts, Twitter officials didn’t agree with his characterization.
As crypto PR pro Kim Bazak points out, “Elon is very ambivalent when it comes to #Web3, but between the lines you can see that he is pro decentralization (when it makes sense, like with #Bitcoin) but against the stupid trend of #NFTs, P2E and dumb jpegs.”
Musk has always been very vocal and clear about his opinions on Web3, DeFi, and other emerging technologies. In a tweet that has aged gracefully, Musk pointed out, “Achieving truly decentralized finance – power to the people – is a noble & important goal.” Meanwhile, Elon is a known proponent of memecoin Dogecoin (DOGE) and is often referred to by fans and followers as “The Dogefather.”
To put this in perspective, even before offering to buy Twitter, Elon floated the idea of transforming Twitter into the “next super app” on par with other Asian multi-featured social platforms like WeChat and Grab. For instance, in an episode of the All-In Podcast, Elon mentioned that “the U.S. needs a super app. We can either convert Twitter to that or start something new. It does need to happen somehow.”
He continued, “If you’re in China, you kind of live on WeChat. It does everything. It’s sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of things all rolled into one, with a great interface. It’s really an excellent app, and we don’t have anything like that outside of China.”
So how do all of these past mentions line up? More importantly, what’s the connection between X.com and Elon’s Twitter takeover?
The Origins Of Everything X
Per comments from Twitter’s new owner, “Twitter probably accelerates X by 3 to 5 years, but I could be wrong.” Just before bringing his $44 billion buyout to a culmination last week, the SpaceX chief hinted via a tweet that “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”
X all makes sense, especially considering that Elon co-founded an online bank named X.com in 1999. It later merged with another company, resulting in the formation of PayPal. However, according to various sources, Musk reacquired the X.com domain from PayPal in 2017 for an undisclosed amount. On top of that, Musk established three different holding companies – each named with a variation of “X Holdings” – to pursue his Twitter bid.
It is important to note that this initiative of building a U.S.-based “super app” has been in motion for quite some time. Back in March, Twitter’s founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey, an avid supporter of decentralization, stressed the importance of constructing a new platform that isn’t owned or operated by any company but by an open-source protocol or foundation of sorts. At this very time, Musk first talked about his vision of building a “super app.”
Since then, Dorsey has moved on to collaborate with projects like ION and tbDEX to develop a new decentralized social platform protocol. The idea is to combine Web2’s features with Web3’s open-source and decentralization to create a Web5 (Web2 + Web3) platform that will ultimately grant users more control over their data while preventing centralized entities from using (or monetizing) it without consent.
The X Factor
In essence, the writing is on the wall. Musk intends to build a super-app based on the WeChat model. However, the degree of decentralization is yet to be determined, especially considering how WeChat operates within walled boundaries. Musk’s X app would likely combine messaging, video, payments, commerce, and other activities within one grand platform. Twitter’s acquisition might just be the catalyst to get it all started.
Moreover, suppose Jack Dorsey gets involved once again with Twitter post-Musk’s acquisition. In that case, we might even see a merger of ideas that ultimately leads to the development of an open and decentralized standard for social media – one that eventually delivers a new version of Twitter that is more inclusive, censorship-resistant, decentralized, and freed of political machinations.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.