Now that the dramatic, if pointless and expensive, interlude of Musk trying to sabotage his own (extremely overpriced) purchase of Twitter is finally over with Musk conceding to buy the social network at the original proposed price of $54.20.
So what's next? Will Musk keep Twitter as is, or will he burn it down, fire all its employees,and rebuild it from the ground up? Conveniently, Musk's Twitter-linked text messages, publicly released as part of the Twitter lawsuit legal disclosure, provide enough information for what Musk really wants in terms of a final product.
Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2022
First, as stated in the following exchange with Valor CEO Antonio Gracias, Musk believes in free speech. So much so that he finds Russia Today "quite entertaining" with "lots of bullshit but some good points too."
Musk expressed similar sentiment in the following exchange with ex-wife Talulah Jane (TJ) Riley, who was dismayed at the Babylon Bee's suspension and who proposed to "buy Twitter and make it radically free speech"... or "delete it."
Musk then speaks to VC entrepreneur Jon Lonsdale, where they discuss Musk's desire to make Twitter an open source algo because it's important to "reign in big tech" and "our public square needs to not have arbitrary sketch censorship." Musk's response: "what we have right now is hidden corruption!"
As an aside, a few weeks later, after it emerged that Musk had purchased a sizable stake in Twitter, Jon Lonsdale made an interesting observation: "I bet you the board doesn't even get full reporting or see any report of the censorship decisions and little cabals going on there but they should - the lefties on the board likely want plausible deniability!"
Things get more interesting in this exchange with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, in which Jack echoed not only that Twitter must be an "open source protocol" but that it "can't have an advertising model. Otherwise you have surface area that governments and advertisers will try to influence and control. If it has a centralized entity behind it, it will be attacked." Jack's conclusion: "this isn't complicated work, it just has to be done right so it's resilient to what has happened to twitter." After a lengthy back and forth, Musk tells Jack that "it's worth both trying to move Twitter in a better direction and doing something new that's decentralized."
A quick tangent, in which we learn that it wasn't just Elon seeking to buy Twitter, so was the J.P. Morgan of crypto, Sam-Bankman Fried: look for SBF to have a prominent role in the company going forward.
And a second tangent: what is SBF's net worth and how much money could he put into twitter: short answer to both: a lot.
Another interesting exchange, this time with Mathias Dopfner, CEO of German media conglomerate Axel Springer, which owns a bunch of tabloids such as Bild, in which he says that if Musk buys it, Alex Springer would be willing to run twitter.
An especially interesting exchange took place minutes after Musk revealed his Twitter stake with a person who, unlike everyone else in the disclosure, demanded to be unnamed. Due to the "sensitive" nature of his proposal "navigating how to let right-wingers back on Twitter... especially the boss himself")we can only assume it is due to fear of being canceled by the radical left mob.
Another exchange after Musk announced he was seeking a board seat is with the abovementioned Matthias Dopfner, head of Germany's Axel Springer, who does everything in his power to make his personal media outlets painstakingly, boringly, crushingly woke and politically correct, who we learn is really just another hypocrite and closet "anti-woke", suggesting to Musk that he create a marketplace for algos, "e.g., if you're a snowflake and don't want content that offends you pick another algorithm." If only Dofpner would do the same with his empire of snowflake-catering tabloids. Amusingly, Dopfner has some other "actionable" recos, such as "solve free speech." Oh ok. Here is the rest of what the CEO of one of the world's biggest tabloid empires (and recent acquiror of Politico) wants to do:
Status Quo: it is the de facto public town square, but It is a problem that it does not adhere to free speech principles. => so the core product is pretty good, but (i) it does not serve democracy, and (ii) the current business model is a dead end as reflected by flat share price.
Goal: Make Twitter the global backbone of free speech, an open market place of ideas that truly complies with the spirit of the first amendment and shift the business model to a combination of ad-supported and paid to support quality
1.) "Solve Free Speech"
- 1-a) Step 1" Make it censorship-FREE by radically reducing Terms of Services (now hundreds of pages) to the following: Twitter users agree to:
- (1) Use our service to send spam or scam users,
- (2) Promote violence,
- (3) Post illegal pornography.
- 1-b) Step 2: Make Twitter censorship-RESISTANT
- Ensure censorship resistance by implementing measures that warrant that Twitter can't be censored long term, regardless of which government and management
- How? Keep pushing projects at Twitter that have been working on developing a decentralized social network protocol (e.g., BlueSky). It's not easy, but the back-end must run on decentralized infrastructure, APIs should become open (back to the roots! Twitter started and became big with open APIs).
- Twitter would be one of many clients to post and consume content.
- Then create a marketplace for algorithms, e.g., if you're a snowflake and don't want content that offends you pick another algorithm.
2.) "Solve Share Price" - Current state of the business:
- Twitter's ad revenues grow steadily and for the time being, are sufficient to fund operations.
- MAUs are flat, no structural growth
- Share price is flat, no confidence in the existing business model
But while a lot of these ideas were inbounds to Musk, where things get really "insightful" is when Elon chats with his brother Kimbal, about his vision. We will publish these without commentary because, well, it's well beyond our pay grade to comment on Musk's "vision" - some peculiar cross between a social media, blockchain, a direct messaging app which stores messages forever, and all of it using some token (why not dogecoin).
Here Jason Calacanis also chimes in with some ideas. His comments on De Sasntis are amusing.
It continues a few days later, where Calacanis reveals he may be the next Twitter CEO, and Musk is receptive:
And some more ideas from Calacanis:
Finally, some good news for the liberals out there:
While those were some of the key exchanges, there is much more in the full Musk text message discovery below: