Billionaire Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter in one of the world’s biggest deals, acquiring the social network for $44 billion, with each share valued at $54.20. Twitter would become a private entity on completion of the deal.
The transaction has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of Twitter. The deal will see closure on the completion of all necessary formalities.
After the takeover news, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is who would run the show: the new boss or the current management? What would be the impact of Musk’s plan to make Twitter the ultimate platform for free speech? In what ways would it affect the future and direction of social media platforms?
“Twitter has become one of the most popular means of information sharing. With Musk’s takeover and taking it private, we can probably see a lot more focus on usability and free speech, observes N. Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research.
Considering the advocacy that Musk does on free speech and democracy, Chandramouli believes that we are likely to see a stronger focus on these areas.
“A clean up of the system from bots is also likely, all of which has been stated by Musk. However, the most important changes are those that are not yet anticipated, implying that they will evolve with time. It is well known that Musk takes risky ventures and has a knack for changing the industry he enters. If that’s a precedent, the social media landscape is likely to change completely with this buyout,” he added.
Right from the start, Elon Musk has voiced several proposed changes for Twitter, from relaxing its content restrictions to shifting away from its advertising-based revenue model to having an edit button.
“By bringing his technology experience, he would try to enhance the product with new features, make the algorithms open source to increase trust, try to defeat spam bots, and verify humans. All these changes, if made, hopefully will increase the user experience and enhance the credibility of the platform both for Indian and worldwide users,” said Girish Upadhyay, Chief Marketing Officer, Axis My India.
According to Ambarish Ray, Co-Founder and CEO, Digital Dogs Content and Media, “Twitter has come a long way from Jack Dorsey, Ev Williams’ child, conceived as a stream of thought posting. Going private to preserve its free speech credo is both ironic and a sign of our times,”
“Things have to be taken private to keep them truly public. Adspends on Twitter are almost equally divided between real impact and bot-driven wastage. As a result, It is a good thing that Musk is buying Twitter. What he does with it will tell us whether it remains a good thing or not. Indian users, on the other hand, couldn’t care less, I feel. It makes no difference either way whether the board owns Twitter or Elon Musk. The most that it may matter to Indian users is how to monetise it now for brands and promotions. Indians don’t really use Twitter because we are built to react and decipher in detail, and Twitter allows both those things in a different context. Not the cultural context of Indians so much,” he added.
According to Ray, “Twitter going private will hopefully raise the bar on what to expect from social media platforms in terms of monetisation, partnerships and marketing strategies.
From a social lens, users of social media platforms will hopefully find some playbook points regarding authenticating users. From bots to scamsters and hate mongering to peddling polemic points of view, social media is largely a mess. Hopefully, this will change, Ray added.
“With a new owner, the ethos, culture, speed, and direction may undergo a change. The future of social media platforms will be brighter in terms of resources,” said Jagdeep Kapoor, Founder-Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
Can the toolkit persuade Indian users to join the crypto world?
“With India being the third largest market for Twitter, with more than 20 million users, including the millennials and crypto generation, Elon Musk has got the tool kit to persuade Indian users to join the crypto world. Elon is already a crypto pricing influencer, particularly with Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Shiba Inu. This move of owning Twitter gives him a stronger hand in voicing his views, narratives, and requirements, subsequently with the possibility of replacing Dogecoin by Shiba Inu with respect to the integration of Twitter wallets,” said Sumesh Ramankutty, CMO, Augmont Gold.
But when it comes to India, it is a complex environment and crypto and Twitter have not gone down easily with regulators and policymakers. The fear of cash outflow from the country prevails and there is ambiguous end use of the same. In India, Twitter has had several run-ins with the government and regulators over misinformation, harmful narratives, casting negative light on the country, and finally non-compliance with Indian IT law.
News articles claim that the Indian government, on the other hand, has not entertained Elon’s request for a steep cut on the import duty of electric vehicles; he has been vocal about it and decried it loudly. In the coming days, like any media or publishing office, Twitter will have to dance to the beats of the business house and sing the song of “free speech.” It could be interesting for users if there was a shift in strategy and technology. For the time being, let us assume the motives are perfect and clean. Well, in that case, as a user or as a marketer, it excites me how the synergy can make a difference in disseminating information on Twitter,” Sumesh added.
“In hindsight, we shouldn’t be surprised to see fact-check scores on every piece of information on Twitter! On the other hand, users have to be extra careful that they don’t fall into any wrong narratives or one-sided opinions and ensure no misinformation is spread. So now Twitter should be used at one’s own risk. From a political and international business standpoint, I believe Twitter will be dictating terms on the table in the future, demanding economies for free business as well as free speech. After all, Twitter is a great source of information, and cryptography works by encrypting and decrypting information.
So is there a reason to be cautious” Sumesh added.
Speaking about the leadership changes, Updhayay said, “Musk has previously said that he is not very confident in the leadership team. He has even compared the CEO, Parag Agarwal, to Stalin, so what happens to the current leadership has to be seen.” But I hope that he creates a balance between the old and the new.”