Updated Oct 26, 2023 - Economy & Business

X usage plummets in Musk's first year

Data: Sensor Tower; Chart: Axios Visuals

X, formerly Twitter, has hemorrhaged users and advertisers in its first year under Elon Musk's ownership, according to new data provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Investors who backed the deal hoped Musk's track record and vision would supercharge X's popularity and value. That has not happened, at least in the short-term.

  • Fidelity, one equity backer, was holding Twitter at a 61.43% discount through the end of August.
  • Banks are expected to take a 15% discount on debt they've thus far been unable to unload, per the WSJ.

By the numbers: Engagement metrics are down across the board.

  • App downloads fell roughly 38% globally between October 2022 and September 2023, according to Sensor Tower estimates. In the U.S., mobile app downloads fell 57% in the same time period. Data from Data.AI, another app tracking firm, shows similar trends.
  • Usage has also decreased, with monthly active Android users falling 14.8% globally and 17.8% with mobile users in the U.S. year-over-year for the month of September, per SimilarWeb.
  • Average time spent, daily per user, fell 2% year-over-year globally in the third quarter of 2023. Sessions dipped 4% in that same time period, per Sensor Tower.
  • User churn, or users who stop using the app, increased more than 30% year-over-year as of September 2023, per Sensor Tower.
  • Web traffic was down 7% globally and 11.6% in the U.S. for the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, per SimilarWeb.

Yes, but: There are some bright spots.

  • Global first-time downloads of the X mobile app were flat in the past year compared to the year prior to Musk buying the company, per Data.ai.
  • Traffic to Elon Musk's personal profile and posts were up 96% year-over-year in September.

The other side: X CEO Linda Yaccarino has claimed that the platform had "half a billion users all over the world showing up multiple times a day."

Zoom in: A decrease in engagement coupled with concerns around brand safety and misinformation has pushed advertisers away from X.

  • While most tech firms have experienced slower ad growth over the past year, X's advertising business has nosedived. Musk himself admitted in September that the company's U.S. ad business was down 60%.

Between the lines: Yaccarino has said that brands are coming back to Twitter, but third party estimates suggest an overwhelming majority of the world's biggest-spending advertisers have stopped advertising on X in the past year.

  • Insider Intelligence estimates that X's ad business will bring in $2.9 billion this year, down from roughly $4.14 billion in 2022.

Be smart: Other social networks have also seen usage and engagement declines, but the trend lines are much worse for X, per SimilarWeb.

  • Overall, traffic to the top 100 social networks globally dipped 3.7% year-over-year, in September.
  • Meanwhile, some apps have grown. TikTok, per SimilarWeb, saw global web traffic spike 22.8% year-over-year in September.

What we're watching: Under Musk, new products have been rolled out with an eye on creating a super app. How those are adopted bear watching.

  • Deepening tensions between Musk and the media is compounding scrutiny about the company over things like misinformation and content moderation.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Android usage, not mobile usage, worldwide was down 14.8%.

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