Elon, X and That Sink-In Feeling
This article was originally published on my Substack, Trend Mill.
When Elon Musk stepped into Twitter X HQ as its new owner, he came armed with some high-brow humor in the form of a porcelain sink. It made him laugh. The rest of the company cringed and braced themselves. X was about to enter into a period of erratic disruption associated with Musk’s brand of entrepreneurship.
In that sense, he hasn’t failed to deliver.
A year from “let that sink in” day, there’s barely been a quiet moment in the so-called public town square. That’s an understatement — for much of the year, the platform has been buried in chaos, at times, barely hanging on by a thread. (Yes, that’s a Meta pun). While Musk’s spontaneous product strategy — i.e., making decisions at 3 am while sitting on the toilet scrolling X — has never failed to cause outrage among the user base, it has often failed to improve the product itself.
To mark the year, I thought it would be fun to pull out the biggest changes, features and decisions, marking each as a win or fail, to examine how the company has fared. (I’m sure you know the answer to that).
The problem is that when trying to do everything, you often end up doing nothing.
Buying Twitter — Fail
Musk recently allowed employees to buy shares in X at a private valuation of $19 billion. That’s down over 55% from the $44 billion he paid for the company. Ouch. Worse than overpaying was the fact he didn’t want to buy Twitter; he just ran his mouth and then realized the Twitter board was going to hold him accountable for his actions through the courts. An owner who doesn’t want to be there? Off to a bad start.
The rebrand — Fail
As I will write X a lot, it makes sense to talk about the rebrand. In my opinion, this is a failure on all fronts. Twitter and its associated words, like Tweet and Retweet, were baked into the social discourse. Musk may have overpaid, but he did buy a well-established brand that had weaved its way into the cultural fabric. It was perhaps the only thing…