The next stage for Twitter 2.0 could potentially include a name change for the app, with Twitter Inc. now officially no more, with the company being rolled into another corporate entity called ‘X Corp’, under Elon Musk’s ownership.
The merger was revealed in court documents tendered as part of legal action being taken against the app.
As per the filing:
“Twitter Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists. X Corp. is a privately held corporation, incorporated in Nevada, and with its principal place of business in San Francisco, California.”
The change links back to Musk’s vision for an ‘everything app’, which he has referred to as X, for which Musk also holds the X.com URL, as part of his future planning for the app.
What, exactly, Musk’s X app would be, but last October, as he was finalizing his deal to acquire Twitter, he reiterated that X remains his long-term plan for the business.
Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2022
Musk has talked about building an app that could provide similar, all-encompassing functionality to how WeChat has become a key utility in China, with Chinese citizens doing everything in the app - from paying bills, to buying public transport tickets, registering their details, grocery shopping, etc.
Musk, with his background in digital payments, and the connectivity of Twitter, is hoping to integrate payment functionality into tweets, making it easy to transfer funds, free of charge, around the world.
As Musk outlined to the Morgan Stanley Tech Conference last month:
“So, let’s say you want to be able to send money easily from one account on Twitter to another account effortlessly, with one click, you want to be able to earn interest on that money, you want to be able to have debt, so you can let your interest can go negative. Basically, I think it’s possible to become the biggest financial institution in the world, just by providing people with convenient payment options.”
Musk also noted that he believes that PayPal, the company that he played a key role in establishing in the early 2000’s, is ‘like a halfway version’ of what he thinks could be done in online payments and finance.
Musk originally founded an online banking startup called X.com in 1999, which was eventually acquired by PayPal, and merged under the broader PayPal banner. But that only came after Musk was ousted as CEO by the PayPal board, and it seems that Musk had unfinished business with the concept – and worth noting that, when Musk served as CEO, PayPal was in fact called ‘X.com’, with the name change coming after the change in management.
Musk provided more insight into his vision for digital finance in an interview with CBS in 1999:
“In my view, the Internet had gone through a couple of stages and was ready for another stage. The first stage was where people could trust the Internet for information. This was perhaps ’95 or ’96. The second was to trust the Internet for purchases and begin to use credit cards online to buy books, toys, pet food and that kind of thing. I think we’re at the third stage now where people are ready to use the Internet as their main financial repository.”
That, in some ways, could be viewed as a precursor to the cryptocurrency movement, which has thus far failed to gain traction, because the use case for crypto, at least in western markets, is still unclear.
Part of the appeal of crypto is that it enables people to take more personal control of their money, by separating it from banks and government regulation. But as we’ve seen with the various collapses of late, many of those regulations exist for a reason, and if we accept, as a result, that crypto should be subject to the same rules as any other currency, that erodes a significant element of its appeal.
Musk himself has offered tacit support for cryptocurrencies, particularly Dogecoin, yet that doesn’t appear, at least at this stage, to be a key driver in his X.com mission.
The main aim looks to be simplified, streamlined payments, along with expanded finance options, all built into a single app that would then become a key facilitator of your digital identity. That’s what WeChat is to a billion or so people in China, but as Meta has found with its various experiments along similar lines, both with Messenger and WhatsApp, getting other regions to adopt apps and online processes for such purpose isn’t easy, nor is clearing the required regulatory hurdles to make it even possible in the first place.
Meta’s vision for expanding Messenger as a platform in 2016 was the same, as Meta’s then head of product management for messaging products, Stan Chudnovsky, explained:
“What’s happening in Asia [with WeChat] is an inspiration - but that’s more about proof of what’s possible. It’s proof that everything starts from a conversation.”
Meta’s plan was to build on Messenger’s functionality with bots and automated shopping flows, while also providing additional functionality to utility providers, agencies, anyone that wanted to build an applet within the app. That, ideally, would then make Messenger a more central hub for all of your various interactions, from communications to business of all types. No need for many apps, Messenger would be the home for everything.
The result? Nobody liked it. Any of it. And while the use of messaging as an interactive tool has continued to increase over time, Meta has since removed all of these additional functions, with WhatsApp, and developing opportunities for businesses in certain markets, now the bigger focus in this respect.
But not in the same way that WeChat is used in China. Meta seems to have conceded that that ship will never sail. And while it is still building on its messaging options for businesses, it’s no longer trying to build a western WeChat.
Which is the mantle that Elon’s now trying to take up – but again, past experience shows that Western users don’t really want that. Add the additional regulatory headaches, and Musk’s past, very public disdain for the bodies that are in charge of such, and it’s difficult to see how this would actually work on Twitter, on a functional level.
But the corporate name change does point to this being the long-term goal, and the broader vision for making Twitter a much bigger deal, to many more users.
The pathway seems unclear, but Musk, with his 1999 vision still held in his mind, seems to believe that this is the future of what may soon be Twitter no more.
UPDATE (4/18): Twitter is now informing users and partners that Twitter Inc. no longer exists, and X Corp is now the managing entity of the platform. At this stage, Twitter says that the 'Twitter service will continue to be known as Twitter'.