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Musk Makes Major Waves in Week 1 of Twitter Ownership

Changes to Twitter Blue, Vine, layoffs, board changing and delisting

Billionaire and Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk closed on his $44 billion Twitter deal last week. In that short time, he has made some major waves at the social media platform. On Monday, we reported the firing of three key staff, Musk’s plans to form a content moderation council, and rumored layoffs that will gut Twitter staff. That was just the beginning. Here are the latest rumblings from the Twitterverse.

Twitter Blue

In mid-2021, Twitter launched Twitter Blue, a subscription product that allowed subscribers access to premium features such as undoing tweets, customization options,  themes, custom app icons, bookmark folders, and ad-free articles from participating publishers. At launch, Twitter Blue was priced at $2.99 a month, but the price went up to $4.99 a month after Twitter announced disappointing second-quarter financials. For U.S. subscribers, this represented a 67% price increase which went into effect on October 1, 2022.

The Verge reports that the ad-free article reading feature is gone, but Musk plans to work with publishers so that Twitter Blue subscribers may have the ability to read ad-free articles in the future. According to TechCrunch, over 350 publishers were part of the program which allowed subscribers access to articles behind paywalls. They were notified by email that the Twitter Blue partnership was ending.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching an update to Twitter Blue. In the course of this work, we have made the decision to discontinue Ad-free Articles, effective as of the close of business today, October 31, 2022. This hard decision will allow us to focus our resources on adding additional value for our members. Expect to hear more from us soon,” the email read.

On Sunday, The Verge said that Musk plans to start charging $20 a month for the coveted blue checkmark, a symbol of verification for journalists, celebrities, politicians and others that indicates their accounts are verified. Verified users would have 90 days to subscribe to the new Twitter Blue or risk losing their blue checkmark. According to The Verge, Musk gave staff working on the project a deadline of November 7 to launch the new feature or be fired.

It seems that Musk may already be backtracking on the $20-a-month price increase in favor of an $8-a-month price tag after an online debate with Stephen King ensued. Here is Musk’s reaction.

In the full thread, Musk tosses out other ideas that are in the works, but it is hard to know what the ultimate Twitter Blue subscription package and pricing will be. Musk tweeted this meme Tuesday afternoon which features his Halloween costume from last night.

Could Vine make a comeback?

In 2012, Twitter bought Vine, a short-form video app that allowed 6-second videos to run on a loop. Twitter shut down the app in 2016, long before anyone had heard of TikTok. Axios reports that Vine could be making a comeback, and Musk reportedly has a team working on it already. Musk posted a poll on Sunday to ask Twitter users if they were in favor of bringing back Vine.

Layoffs, board changes and delisting

The Washington Post reports that Musk met with senior leadership at Twitter this weekend to discuss layoffs. The first round of layoffs could be as many as 25% of staff, equating to more than 7,000 employees from a range of departments including sales, product, engineering legal, trust and safety.

In addition, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter’s nine-member board of directors has been dismissed. The board consisted of Bret Taylor, Parag Agrawal, Omid Kordestani, David Rosenblatt, Martha Lane Fox, Patrick Pichette, Egon Durban, Fei-Fei Li and Mimi Alemayehou.

And last but not least, Twitter will officially be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on November 8.

“The New York Stock Exchange hereby notifies the SEC of its intention to remove the entire class of the stated securities from listing and registration on the Exchange at the opening of business on November 08, 2022, pursuant to the provisions of Rule 12d2-2 (a),” the filing reads.

Insider Take

It has just been a week since Elon Musk officially took over Twitter, and he is making big moves, some which were predictable and others which weren’t. What’s next is anyone’s guess but we expect to hear more about the layoffs, the naming of a new leadership team, and perhaps the company’s plan for the next several months. However, as Musk has already shown us, each day brings something new and his decision-making is reactive. One thing we can be certain of is that Musk will continue to surprise us, whether or not his ideas are sound or prudent.

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