Remember X from the PayPal days? Yep, that’s an Elon Musk classic. With the ongoing changes that he’s making to what used to be Twitter, X might just realise a dream from a quarter-century ago.
If you’re a regular on CT, you probably already know a little of what’s coming. If not, buckle up! Part one of this two-parter will explore the X transformation, give a nod to WeChat, and tease out what Elon’s “Everything App” might look like.
Why did Elon rebrand Twitter?
Twitter’s brand identity? Gone!
On July 23, 2023, Musk dropped a bombshell: “If a good enough X logo is posted tonight, we’ll make go live worldwide tomorrow.”
Twitterati didn’t disappoint. From the wild to the wonderful, suggestions flooded in. Sawyer Merrit was quick off the mark, posting the winning suggestion just 23 minutes after the initial Tweet.
Just like that, it was bye-bye birdie. With this whirlwind move, Musk’s 25-year-old plan is back in the game.
For the Musketeers out there, the X transformation isn’t a shocker. Flashback to December 1999: X.com made its debut post Musk’s Zip2 adventure, riding the wave of banking reforms. The original X.com was Musk’s crazy idea to bring 90s era finance onto this fringe technology called “the internet”, rolling banking and mutual fund management services together.
But then, the X dream hit a snag with Musk’s exit from PayPal in 2000 - seems like not everyone loved the name or saw the need for online banking as much as he did. Fast forward to 2017: Musk regains ownership of X.com from PayPal in October 2022. With that, the pieces start falling into place.
According to Walter Isaacson, the genius behind Steve Job’s epic biography, Musk had been planning the X rebrand for some time - over nine months before buying Twitter. This alpha, and Musk’s Tweet stating “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app”, tell us everything we need to know. The man’s on a mission: creating a financial platform that helps anyone cash in from content creation.
What is an “everything app”?
Sounds fancy, right? An app that does everything? While it might sound grand, it’s not new. Enter WeChat, or 微信, China’s superstar app. From videos, texts, calls, to financial services or live streaming, and even third-party mini-program integrations, WeChat’s got it all.
Several apps across South East Asia, such as Grab and Gojek, are also pursuing the Everything App goal. While starting out as platform apps like Uber or DiDi Chuxing, they soon pivoted to Everything Apps to capture more local value, seeking to emulate the massive success of WeChat. Can’t blame them - WeChat boasts a billion users monthly. It’s clear: people love an all-in-one app.
The big question here is if that same love will be found in the West. Musk seems intent on answering that question, although he might not like what he finds. User privacy concerns might mean people just don’t want what he’s selling. If we circle back to WeChat, you’ll understand why.
Tencent, the WeChat parent company, stores an eye-watering amount of user data. It’s also very much beholden to the whims and decrees of the Chinese Government, so if they want a user banned, it’s bye bye everything. Being banned from an app might not sound like a big deal, but WeChat is the central point of life in China. A person’s life runs through the app, including essentials like paying rent or bills. If a user falls foul of the internet police, life becomes very difficult. They also have unrestricted access to your data, so all of your secrets can be laid bare. This also applies to users outside of China. Yikes!
Back to X, Musk might end up fighting a losing battle convincing Western users their data is safe. Distrust of both tech giants and government institutions is growing, the revelations of the Twitter Files, and the loss of user faith from Musk’s takeover escapades could kill the dream before it even begins. That is, unless he has an ace up his sleeve.
How do X and the crypto industry fit together?
Crypto might be the ace-in-the-hole Musk needs to win Western users over. An “Everything App” needs a solid payment backbone, allay users fears around data privacy. Blockchain can do both of these things, and with Musk’s crypto love affair, it’s not hard to guess where this is going.
The specifics? Still under wraps. It’s tough to predict what Elon has planned for us all, but there’s definitely a non-zero chance X might just be the golden ticket to crypto going mainstream. And with X recently receiving a licence to store, transfer, and trade Bitcoin and crypto, the golden ticket might be closer than we think.
Join us in part two of this article series, where we’ll dive into how X and crypto could work together to bring Elon’s vision to life.
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