Improving Twitter

Apr 26, 2022

Twitter's acquisition was one of my "Low Conviction" 2022 predictions, but I certainly didn't think this would happen.

Here are some of my unsolicited thoughts on what Musk could do with Twitter.

Outsource Innovation

While Twitter has had a few high-profile product launches in the last two years (Spaces, Fleets, NFTs), the product has been relatively stagnant for years. With the constant churn at the company (Jack gone, the go-private acquisition), it must be difficult for employees. Musk's management style is different than the current status quo.

  • Open up a broader API platform to developers. In the early years, the open Twitter API created all types of innovation by third-party developers – new clients and functionality (so much innovation that TweetDeck was making more advertising revenue than Twitter – before it was acquired and its competitors shut down).
  • Open-source different parts of Twitter's infrastructure, including but not limited to the ranking algorithm. There's little moat left in the tech, but Twitter's network effect remains strong.

Making Money

I don't believe that financial gain is Musk's goal (instead, a better version of the Bezos/Washington Post strategy). Taking the company private gives Musk room to operate without Wall Street breathing down his neck.

  • Traditional leveraged buyout – reduce headcount, double down on profitable parts of the company, bring the company public again in a few years.
  • Pivoting to a subscription model is unlikely to be a better business than ads (at least in the short term). As a result, Spaces, Blue, and other current products are unlikely to move the needle seriously.
  • Open the APIs for developers to experiment with crypto + Twitter. Many integrations will fail miserably, and it's difficult to tell which will work. So it would be unwise for Twitter to attempt these products themselves. Instead, let others build: integrated payments, subscriptions, trading, etc., and take the run with the best ideas. This strategy is Twitter's best bet at becoming a protocol (Jack's vision).

Features

How does Twitter become the public forum that Musk envisions?

  • Promote individuals over brands. Musk has proven how powerful the platform can be. Individuals, not corporations, must run public forums. The best news comes from primary sources on Twitter – not from the journalists and newspapers that repost it. Build for the content creators, and the rest will follow. The counter positioning is natural for Musk, who has no media ties and is most likely against traditional media.
  • Make the game transparent. How things happen in the forum must be clear: how posts are disseminated (open-source ranking) when they are suppressed, and why.

Curtail Spam and Harassment

  • Add a real identity-verification option for accounts. Verification is used as a status symbol but might be a solid card to play against spam and bots. While anonymous accounts could still coexist on the platform, they would be downranked without verification (private or otherwise).
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