The last time Elon Musk threw the bird at his users, it was to change the Twitter logo to a grinning Shiba Inu – a hilarious inside joke that boosted the value of the dogecoin cryptocurrency, in which Musk was an investor, by 30 percent. A class action is still pending.
Over the weekend, the former richest man in the world crowdsourced a logo for the platform, which was renamed X this morning. Twitter—sorry, X—CEO Linda Yaccarino tweeted—sorry, x’ed—that the company was radically reinvented, creating a platform “centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking—creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services and opportunities. Powered by AI.”
The new brand, which users have noted looks a lot like the standard unicode X, is the latest iteration of a concept Musk has been promoting since the late 1990s. He first tried to build an online bank on x.com until he was kicked out of the company, which renamed itself PayPal after its one successful service. Since purchasing the x.com domain in 2017, Musk has added to the vision: messaging, e-commerce, video, and now AI, all on a single platform.
“There is absolutely no limit to this transformation,” Yaccarino said. “X will be the platform that can deliver, well… everything.”
It won’t be. To create a super app, X would have to build an entirely new financial technology infrastructure, win over regulators through open and diligent compliance, and gain the trust of users and advertisers who have left Twitter since Musk took over.
“If your brand equity is declining and user experience is declining, you’re already starting three laps behind in the race,” said David Shrier, a practice professor of AI and innovation at Imperial College Business School. “This is a 23-year-old business plan that didn’t work then and is now being implemented in a worse market position,” he says of Twitter’s rebranding to X.
The basis of any super app would be payments: enabling people to pay each other, companies to pay for goods and services and receive money in return. In January, Twitter began applying for licenses to process transactions in the US, reportedly led by Esther Crawford, whose startup Squad was bought by Twitter in 2020. Crawford, who famously posted a photo of herself lying on the floor of the Twitter office in the early days of Musk’s tenure, was fired in February.
On Sunday, Crawford tweeted what seemed like a cloaked dig at the rebrand. “Corporate seppuku: destroying your own product or brand,” she wrote. “Usually committed by new management in pursuit of cost savings due to a lack of understanding of the core business or disregard for the customer experience.”
Tech companies have often tried to get into fintech as a way to squeeze more revenue out of their users and turn platforms into broader ecosystems of products and services. Ride-hailing companies, such as Uber, and Grab and Go-Jek in Southeast Asia, have launched financial products they can use to pay drivers and collect payments from users. Meta has made multiple attempts to build payments into its successful marketplaces, with limited impact. In April, Meta introduced WhatsApp payments in Brazil. Apple has started building on Apple Pay with Apple Card and Apple Savings.