Jul 24, 2023 - Economy

Twitter’s X rebrand revives Elon Musk’s superapp plans

Illustration of the Twitter logo falling into a hypnotic spiral.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

There's a new(ish) social media app on the block.

Driving the news: On Sunday night, Elon Musk began rolling out the long-teased rebrand of Twitter into X.

Why it matters: Musk bought Twitter last year for $44 billion with the help of other equity investors and billions in loans, so finding the "on" switch for the money printers is paramount.

Flashback: Since the start of his ownership saga of the social media company, Musk has repeatedly talked about turning the product into a "superapp" that bundles a slew of services into one platform.

  • Musk also appears intent on reviving the "X" brand — one he's loved since the 90s (it was the name of the company he co-founded and merged into what became PayPal).
  • And since day one, he's made his disdain for advertising well known.

State of play: So far, the company has tinkered with some product features (mostly reserved for paying subscribers) like increasing the character limit on posts, and enabling longer video uploads.

  • In May, the company acquired Laskie, a job-matching startup, to bolster Twitter’s offerings to corporate users.
  • And he's been very focused on pushing users to sign up for the paid version of the service via both carrots and sticks.

Yes, but: Some investors have already curbed their enthusiasm.

My thought bubble: Musk certainly has his work cut out for him.

  • Super-apps have been a hugely successful concept in Asia, but haven't fared as well in Western internet culture for a number of circumstantial reasons.
  • And while Musk has been able to get his fans onboard with his changes at Twitter, such as signing up for the paid subscription service, entirely throwing away the Twitter brand could very well alienate much of what's left of a user base that's stuck around nostalgic reasons.
  • Other tech companies that have rebranded — namely Alphabet and Meta — did so as part of corporate reorganizations. Most importantly, they retained the names of the consumer products.

The bottom line: Musk isn't quite starting from scratch, but close.

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