Last time Elon Musk gave the bird back to his users, it was to change the Twitter logo to a smiling Shiba Inu – a funny inside joke that increased the value of the dogecoin cryptocurrency, in which Musk was an investor, by 30 percent. A class action lawsuit is still pending.
Over the weekend, the former richest man in the world put together a logo for the platform, which by this morning had been renamed X. Twitter—sorry, X—CEO Linda Yaccarino posted on Twitter—sorry, x’ed—that the company was being radically reimagined to become a platform “focused on audio, video, messaging, payments/banking—creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services and opportunities. Powered by AI.”
The new brand — which users have pointed out looks a lot like standard unicode X — is the latest iteration of a concept Musk has been pushing since the late 1990s. First, he tried to build an online bank at x.com until he was kicked out of the company, which renamed itself after its only successful service, PayPal. Since purchasing the x.com domain in 2017, Musk has added to the vision: messaging, e-commerce, video and now AI, all on a single platform.
“There is absolutely no limit to this transformation,” Yaccarino wrote. “X will be the platform that can deliver, well … everything.”
It will not be. To create a super app, X will have to build an entirely new financial technology infrastructure, win over regulators with open and diligent compliance with the rules, and earn the trust of users and advertisers who have abandoned Twitter since Musk took over.
“If you have a drop in brand equity and a drop in user experience, you’re already starting three laps back in the race,” says David Shrier, professor of AI practice and innovation at Imperial College Business School. “This is a 23-year-old business plan that didn’t work then and is now being implemented in a worse market position,” he says of Twitter’s rebranding to X.
The basic foundation of any super app would be payments – allowing people to pay each other, to pay businesses for goods and services, and to receive money for the same. In January, Twitter began applying for licenses to process transactions in the US, in an initiative said to be led by Esther Crawford, whose startup Squad was acquired by Twitter in 2020. Crawford, who famously posted a photo of herself lying on the Twitter office floor in the early days of Musk’s tenure, was fired in February.
Sunday, Crawford posted on Twitter what looked like a veiled dig at the rebrand. “Corporate seppuku: destroying your product or brand,” she wrote. “Typically committed by junior management in pursuit of cost savings due to a lack of understanding of the core business or a disregard for the customer experience.”
Tech companies have often tried to get into fintech as a way to squeeze more revenue out of their users and turn platforms into broader ecosystems of products and services. Companies like Uber and Southeast Asia’s Grab and Go-Jek have launched financial products, which they can use to pay drivers and receive payments from users. The meta has made numerous attempts to build payments into its successful, limited-impact markets. In April, Meta made payments through WhatsApp in Brazil. Apple has started building Apple Pay with Apple Card and Apple Savings.