Musk’s Twitter Acquisition: A Business Blunder or a Brilliant Move?


حسين يونس

As I follow the fate of Twitter after Elon Musk’s acquisition, I learn many valuable business lessons, not to mention the leadership aspect of it. We all know that Mr. Musk is a legend in many business domains, such as the spacecraft engineering company (SpaceX), and the electric car (Tesla), a concept that was invented by General Motors who produced the first electric car (EV1), and it killed by the republican’s administration in the 1990s to protect the oil and gas industry. However, I’m not sure what is going wrong with Musk in the social media industry? As I examine the details of his recent decisions, I am stunned and puzzled by the logic behind them.

Of course, things might eventually work out in his favor, but the current situation indicates that he is not doing well with Twitter, especially after Meta Platforms launched ‘Threads’, a fierce competitor that is hurting Musk’s business reputation.

Musk claims that he bought Twitter to make it a “platform for free speech around the globe”, so his decision serves the public interest. However, this contradicts what he said in a TED interview. Moreover, we all know Musk as a businessman, and I don’t remember seeing him on any philanthropic list like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. And of course, spending $44 billion on Twitter is not one of Musk’s generous acts.

Besides these facts, I am curious to know how on earth he will turn Twitter, which has provided free service to the public for more than 17 years, into a profitable entity, and not from the corporates, but from the public. Charging for the blue checkmark? I might understand if Twitter was the only social media platform that provides information and allows people to share their thoughts and updates, but that’s not the case. So why would people pay money to get verified or access information and read articles? What compelling reason would make them do so? What is the motivation?

For me, this is a very interesting business case. If you ask me what is the most challenging moment in my business when it comes to sales, I would say selling services or products that your competitors are offering for free. Most of the time, the client’s response will be ‘Hussein, I like you, but please tell me why I should pay for this service when I can get it from your competitor for free?’. This is not an easy task, folks. Turning a free service into a monetized business is a mission impossible, especially when you are asking the public to pay for your service and not just the corporates.Many experts believe that Musk has shown a lack of leadership in the social media domain within Twitter organization and outside. I am happy to learn new business insights and skills from Musk’s maneuvers with Twitter, and wonder how it will end considering the current business circumstances, including the potential upcoming recession and increasing layoffs.

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