One year ago, Elon Musk made a dramatic entrance into Twitter’s headquarters, carrying a sink and quipping, “Let that sink in” before making sweeping staff cuts. This event marked the start of a whirlwind year for the company, including a rebranding to “X.”
Despite facing challenges from old and new competitors, X has displayed remarkable resilience. However, with advertisers cautious and user engagement metrics on shaky ground, the future of X remains uncertain.
Measuring X’s user base has become challenging since the company no longer releases official figures. According to several analytics firms, X’s usage has declined over the past year. David Carr from SimilarWeb notes, “Basically everything is down on a year-over-year basis.”
Prominent figures, like Elton John and Gigi Hadid, have also left the platform. Madeleine Dunne, a former journalist now working in digital marketing, expressed her dissatisfaction, citing the introduction of paid blue tick verification as a trust issue.
The primary challenge for X, much like Twitter before it, is revenue generation. Musk has aimed to diversify income streams by introducing subscription-based models. Still, X remains heavily reliant on ad revenue, which has been declining since Musk’s acquisition, with monthly US ad revenue reportedly down by at least 55% year-over-year.
Linda Yaccarino’s appointment as X CEO was seen as a positive step, distancing Musk from the platform. However, Dr. Ben Marder believes she has been pressured into focusing on quick revenue fixes like subscriptions.
Musk envisions a broader role for X as an “everything app.” Yaccarino hinted at this expansion, describing X as a future state of unlimited interactivity, centered on audio, video, messaging, payments, and more, powered by AI.
X has already started diversifying its offerings, including game streaming and a new audio-video call service. Musk’s banking plans also aim to generate substantial revenue in the coming years.
However, the platform continues to grapple with moderation issues, with a high percentage of reported hateful content remaining on the platform. Elon Musk’s 12 months at the helm of X have been a case study in the challenges of self-regulation on digital platforms, according to Imran Ahmed, founder of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate.
Despite these challenges, Elon Musk remains ambitious about X’s potential, positioning it as humanity’s collective consciousness. The future of the platform will depend on its ability to adapt to changing dynamics and regain advertiser confidence.
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