Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition sparked mixed reactions across the globe but one Twitter co-founder Evans “(Ev) Williams never publicly commented on the matter until last Friday.
Speaking on Bloomberg’s “The Circuit with Emily Chang.” Williams said that he was “sad” to learn that the Tesla CEO was taking over Twitter as a private entity.
Before the takeover, the co-founder had entertained the idea as being “interesting and fun” and never once believed that the deal $44 billion deal would sail through.
Twitter is Vulnerable Under Elon Musk
Williams, who was Twitter’s CEO between 2008 and 2010 and a board member until 2019 believes the microblogging platform is at the risk of turning into the next Yahoo! And Myspace.
According to Williams, Twitter is plagued with many problems that were either nonexistent or controlled by the prior leadership. It is now difficult to differentiate between Twitter the brand and Musk the figure that owns the company.
As for Jason Goldman, one of the members of Twitter’s early founding team “It’s gone pretty poorly, I mean just objectively speaking.”
Goldman and Williams admit that Twitter was not innovating enough under the previous leadership. However, the company had a well-laid-out upward trajectory, in addition to investing heavily in safety channels for reporting abusive content or outrightly declining it.
Williams suggests that Elon Musk has the potential to innovate with Twitter, albeit not with the existing version we are familiar with.
“The old rarely gives birth to the new,” he pointed out.
The co-founder drew parallels between Musk’s management style and that of erstwhile giants like Yahoo! and Myspace.
In essence, this comparison implies that Twitter, under Musk’s helm, might continue to operate and be remembered, yet it could potentially lose a substantial chunk of its brand value.
Can Twitter Turn Around Under the New CEO Linda Yaccarino?
Musk’s position at the helm of Twitter since October has not impressed William, not for a tad bit. The firm’s persistent fiscal woes were highlighted by a significant slump in its recent earnings.
zasNotably, in the five weeks from April to May the company saw a steep 59 percent drop to $88 million in advertising income when compared to the corresponding timeframe of the previous year, Ars Technical reported at the time.
During an April interview with the BBC, Elon Musk expressed optimism, stating: “I believe almost all advertisers have returned or indicated their intent to return.” However, internal outlooks paint a less rosy picture, as per a report by the New York Times.
One internal projection mentioned in the report anticipates that Twitter’s U.S. advertising revenue in June is expected to plunge by no less than 56 percent week over week when compared to the same period last year.
Furthermore, Twitter’s global advertising revenue is projected to plummet by roughly 28% in 2023. It seems likely that it will drop even more, judging by the Ars Technica report. The main reason for the drop according to a report by Statista is a “sharp increase in hate speech and racist content” which does not portend well for some social media platforms.
“Some 877 thousand users deactivated their accounts only in the first week after Musk’s acquisition. This led advertisers to turn away from the platform, fearing for their brands’ safety and losing audiences,” the Statista report explained. “In 2022, the platform’s ad revenue declined by over seven percent after growing by roughly 40 percent one year before.”
Williams’ comments come just a few months after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey expressed doubt about Musk’s aptitude as Twitter’s leader, as reported by The Washington Post.
In a dialogue on Twitter, when a user voiced their disappointment over Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, Dorsey responded emphatically with a simple affirmation: “Yes.” Goldman also chimed in saying that Musk was acting recklessly.
This is the most painful part and where I get worked up. Honestly if the thing just died in a fire so be it. Sites die. But he’s acting with such a reckless and incurious disregard to the consequences of his actions. Because he’s never had to deal with any.
— Jason Goldman (@goldman) December 4, 2022
Meanwhile, some people are hanging onto the cliff’s edge with Linda Yaccarino, having taken over as the new Twitter CEO last week. She could be the force that brings advertisers back to Twitter.
Despite the positive outlook hinged on Yaccarino’s position at the helm of the platform, a report by ars Technica suggests that advertisers might continue ghosting Twitter citing changing policies, sensitive content such as pornography, and the elephant in the room – hate speech.
Williams added that he thinks Musk is “brilliant.” However, with a grain of salt, he said “But no one’s brilliant on everything.”
The Future of Social Media
Speaking about the future of social media, Williams reckoned that we might have to “separate social from media.” For instance, people may not want to see the media of a talented person whom they don’t know despite being on social media.
“I actually think there’s tons of interesting things now if we think about how do we use the Internet to help people be more social without consuming or creating media, so maybe the future of social media is the separation of social and media,” Williams said.
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