Convulsions at Twitter do not excite me, except that it is Elon Musk, whose works are always fascinating. He creates the best cars in the world, the best rockets in or off the world and co-created the world’s on-line payment system. Twitter is a step down, but that is because it has been run without vision.
For most, Twitter is a leisure thing; an opportunity to shout at the air without consequence, and no matter that no one is listening. Mary Wakefield in the Spectator recently called it a playground, so Elon Musk is the kid with the biggest bouncy castle in the world. Good for him. He deserves the childhood once denied to him.
For others, Twitter is a marketing tool – a part of their business or their political campaign. They cannot expect to get it for free any more than they could expect to put billboards up on the highway without paying. Those making a fuss at paying a tiny monthly subscription fee for a special position on a marketing tool worth far, far more to them are disingenuous.
It certainly needs more than the dribble from those $8 a month blue-tick payments. I was astounded to read of the depth of the losses suffered by Twitter – it is a wonder that investors had any faith in it with no hope of an income. It recalls the dot-com boom and bust, which recalled the bubble that burst in the Wall Street Crash, which recalled the South Sea Bubble, for there is nothing new under the sun. The dot-com boom saw countless millions of dollars hosed into start-ups whose only real asset was a slick-looking website, which could never deliver a profit; and the crash was quite foreseeable. Twitter has also failed to make a profit.
However, there were enormous successes from the dot-com boom, by companies which did deliver a paid-for service. The boom was a bust for most, but generalisation must not tarnish the whole era: Amazon soared from this, and those which did provide the service they promised: delivery was the key.
Twitter though is something people do not pay to use, so what is its purpose? Its income, as I understand it, is that adverts appear, largely unregarded, and it sells data on trends and so forth. This could be a good income if the site could be set free with no work needed to be done on it, but somehow that does not work, and so a new master mind is needed to find and exploit the opportunities. Opportunities can hardly be far away when you have a billion customers.
Just being a billboard for people to spraying rude messages is pathetic. If Twitter is to be anything, then the μ-blogging is just the loss-leader to attract customers to the real business. There are things the billions drawn to the honeypot want to buy, and a trusted brand can make the most of this. The man who co-created PayPal will know this. The man who realised that an electric car can be exciting and practical will understand. An app can do so much more, and we can only be shocked that those who created Twitter threw all those opportunities away.
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