Elon Musk has now been in charge of Twitter/X for nine months, which has seen a raft of changes implemented at the app, including UI tweaks, functional updates, expanded options for paying subscribers, shifts in policy, and more.
Marking the new milestone, today, X CEO Linda Yaccarino, who herself has been in the role for only two months, has taken the opportunity to credit her new team for their progress in developing the app, in alignment with Musk’s vision, which, according to Yaccarino, has seen a heap of upgrades shipped in challenging circumstances.
As per Yaccarino:
“As we build the future of X, the pace of innovation speaks for itself. If we can achieve this in nine months, just imagine the scope of our ambition in the next year. To all of the teams and partners making it happen everyday, thank you. To our passionate, growing communities of movie buffs, sports fanatics, tech trailblazers, and the world over - the future of X belongs to YOU - blaze your glory!”
The latter note being a reference to Twitter’s new ‘Blaze Your Glory’ tagline, which is a reference, intentional or not, to dying in a hail of gunfire. Not exactly sure how that applies in this instance.
To underline the team’s progress, Yaccarino has published a listing of 73 key updates that the X team has rolled out under Musk:
Which looks impressive, especially when you consider that the X team has done all this with 80% fewer staff, after Musk’s mass cull.
But on closer scrutiny, it’s not an entirely accurate representation of new work being done at the app.
The vast majority of these projects were in development before Musk came in, including Community Notes, Subscriptions, view counts, long-form posts, etc. Most of these, as Musk himself has acknowledged, were already close to launch, but hadn’t been given the green light by previous management. So they’re not exactly new updates that the much smaller X team have fully implemented, as such.
By my count, of the 73 updates Yaccarino has listed, just 12 of them are actually new, including the updated Twitter Blue (now ‘XBlue’) verification program, longer video uploads, the launch of its ad revenue share program, bookmark counts, voice and video calls, Highlights tab, improved video playback, and job listings.
The rest of these innovations are either repeatedly mentioned in the list, were already developed by the previous Twitter team, or aren’t actually key upgrades at all (rate limits, the launch of its watered-down transparency report, minor video functionality changes).
So only 16% of these listed upgrades are actually new elements. Which is still progress, and remains somewhat impressive with so few staff actually left in the building. But I’ve never seen a platform so keen to pat itself on the back, and if that’s what you’re doing, you probably want to ensure that these are indeed valuable, relevant enhancements that you’re claiming responsibility for.
The real challenge now, however, is what X does next. There aren't really any other shelved elements from Twitter 1.0 waiting to be launched, so whatever comes from now on is actually being wholly built by Elon’s new X team. As such, the changes that are rolled out moving forward will more closely reflect Elon’s vision for the app, and that’ll give us a much better idea of how they’re able to manage such with their skeleton crew.
Many have been predicting that, at some stage, Musk’s deep staff cuts will impede the app.
As Yaccarino is proud to highlight, that hasn’t happened yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how this list develops over the next nine months, and what that shows of X’s new development approach.
You can read Yaccarino’s full list of X achievements here.