Oct 28, 2022 - Economy

Everything you need to know about Twitter's first day under Elon Musk

Illustration of a bird cage with the Twitter logo inside being held up by a cage carrier in the shape of Elon Musk's face.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world shifted last night as Elon Musk completed his takeover of Twitter.

Why it matters: One of the most influential communication platforms is now in the hands of an unpredictable leader.

Catch up quick: The nearly eight-month saga ended Thursday night, a day before today’s court-ordered deadline.

The big picture: Despite shrugging off the idea in the past, Musk has reportedly appointed himself CEO of Twitter, for now, and he's expected to make swift decisions

  • His handling of account suspensions is the most anticipated.
  • Musk has said he intends to limit permanent bans and believes in making Twitter a free-speech haven, raising concerns over increased hate speech and divisiveness.
  • Musk also announced today that Twitter will form a content moderation council and that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements” will happen before it convenes, before also tweeting, “Anyone suspended for minor & dubious reasons will be freed from Twitter jail.”

Reality check: Advertising makes up nearly all of Twitter's revenue, and advertisers are watching closely for Musk's next moves.

  • General Motors on Friday told CNBC it's temporarily suspending paid ads on Twitter while it gets a feel for "the direction of the platform under their new ownership."
  • Musk has been conscious of this kind of risk, and wrote to advertisers on Thursday that "Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape."

What to watch: Musk is essentially fulfilling the role of a private equity company, Bloomberg corporate credit reporter Paula Seligson noted this morning during a Twitter Spaces conversation.

  • If he acts like one, he'll have to significantly cut costs and grow revenue, she noted.
  • Twitter's debt load has grown from about $2 billion to more than $13 billion, with an annual interest expense of $1.2 billion going forward, more than 12x what it is now, according to Seligson.

The bottom line: In order for Musk to make Twitter successful, and to grow its value in order to one day sell it again back to public investors — it’s in his interest to keep content “brand safe” for advertisers.

  • It is vital they stick around to fund his vision for Twitter, which could be a form of a super app.

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