It has been chaotic since Elon Musk acquired Twitter late last year, adding it to the incendiary tech mogul’s diverse business reach, which includes running Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company, Neuralink, and many others. It was an expensive purchase at $44 billion and he then took it private. First things first, he fired top executives including CEO Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, General Counsel Sean Edgett and Twitter Legal Head Vijaya Gadde.
After the execs, Elon went after Twitter’s employees, firing close to 5000 employees including eliminating its communications department in one month with hundreds of staff leaving voluntarily after his Twitter 2.0 ultimatum. Elon has been cutting costs to break even including stopping paying rent on its San Fransico offices, stiffing vendors, auctioning office furniture, and planning to ditch Salesforce software which Twitter employees use to track issues with the service and users, dropping off a ton of licenses, killing off third-party apps, disconnecting servers and shutting down data centres.
These measures to keep Twitter lean have started to have the expected consequences with service disruptions from late last year and its major outage this year happening this week. While he’s slashing costs to free up money to pay off the loans he borrowed to make the purchase, Elon has been hoping Twitter Blue, the company’s monthly subscription service will save the company. It’s not even close.
According to internal documents, Twitter Blue has 290,000 subscribers globally with 62% in the U.S. The subscription service is generating $1.5 million in revenue per month for the company which is bleeding $250 million per month in losses. That’s $27.8 million per year which is literally a drop in the annual revenue bucket. For comparison, Snapchat’s Plus has over 2 million paying subscribers while the New York Times just added 2.04 million paying digital subscribers.
Twitter Blue costs $8 per month on the web, $7 for an annual subscription, and $11 when you pay via Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store. Elon Musk wants to make subscriptions bring half of Twitter’s revenue and that is far from reality according to the numbers.
With a Blue subscription, you get various perks including a Verified Checkmark which caused chaos when it first rolled out. There was rampant impersonation and mischief across the platform.
The latest addition is the ability to tweet 4000 characters. The character limit is capped at 280 and now Twitter Blue subscribers can annoy you with more characters.
This new feature broke Twitter as users on the platform couldn’t tweet for more than an hour with the app notifying users that they were over their daily limit for sending tweets. Other users couldn’t retweet, quote tweet, follow people, see their own DMs or use Tweetdeck.
Twitter’s current 550 engineers had time constraints thanks to Elon’s extreme hardcore policy to ship the new feature in a month. Its recent API changes also added to the outage.
The company has put limits on how many times you can tweet in a day 2400 which also includes retweets with smaller limits and 30-minute intervals. Othe limits include sending 500 messages per day and follow limit of 400 accounts per day with a cap of 5000 follows.
Elon’s ill-advised policies are blowing up advertiser relations which are a major source of revenue for the company.
Andreessen Horowitz of Silicon Valley-based venture capital a16z even complained to Elon about the platform’s decline. His firm invested $400 million in his Twitter takeover.
It’s gotten worse since Elon introduced publicly verified views as he fired one engineer when he questioned some employees about why his engagement numbers are so low. He has directed the employees to track his tweets and how many times they’re being recommended.
The public view counts have been under scrutiny as Twitter still shows you bumped-up views even for a private account that has no followers. It is assumed Twitter shares each API read as one view.
The recent outage had Elon Musk instruct his employees to temporarily hold off on new feature developments to ensure robustness and stability, especially with the upcoming Super Bowl LVII in the U.S. This is a popular sporting event that attracts viewers and advertisers who take to social media to advertise their products. Companies are cautious about advertising on Twitter.