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Twitter enters its era of uncertainty

Sinking in: Elon Musk’s reign over Twitter began in a frenzy late last week with the new “Chief Twit” now the sole decision-maker at the company after firing CEO Parag Agrawal and dissolving its board. Twitter will delist from the New York Stock Exchange on November 8.

Scrambling to make Twitter profitable: “What's going to determine what Twitter looks like in the future is Musk's ability to do what Jack Dorsey miserably failed at—monetizing the platform,” said Aron Solomon, chief legal analyst at Esquire Digital, a digital marketing agency. 

  • Musk’s desire to make Twitter profitable starts with its superusers. Verified Twitter accounts could soon have to pay $20 per month to maintain their blue check marks. 
  • Employees were told Sunday that they need to develop the verification subscription solution by November 7 or risk being fired.
  • “He's going to need to refine Twitter's value proposition to get people to pay for something that they've happily used for free for ages,” Solomon said.
  • There was also talk of reviving Vine, a sunseted short-video app that could ostensibly serve as a competitor to TikTok, Instagram, and Snap.
  • More competition may be coming. Dorsey, who stepped down from Twitter’s board in May, is beta testing his own decentralized social media platform called Bluesky Social.

Possible next steps: Twitter users and advertisers are waiting to see what happens next. While General Motors, a competitor of Musk’s Tesla, temporarily pulled its ads as it assesses the platform’s new direction, other advertisers are observing closely. 

  • Musk tried to reassure Twitter’s advertisers that he wouldn’t loosen content moderation policies, but reports that sexist and racist slurs exploded on the platform by 500% over the weekend, per Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), have advertisers worried.
  • “Twitter has a pretty weak ads platform,” said Joe Karasin, chief marketing officer of CircleIt, a death tech company. ”I feel that he will bring in experts to build it out and make it more user-friendly.”
  • “For advertisers going forward, I see a significant brand safety issue because of Musk's public statements about rolling back Twitter's content moderation,” said Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, a marketing strategy agency. 

The problem: While Elon Musk has ambitions of making the platform a digital town square, mass firings, and installing close friends and associates, could drive down content moderation even as it ramps up user engagement.

“That may drive away brands in the same way many brands stay away from outlets like Fox News. So Twitter's already-fleeting revenue model becomes more at risk if this scenario plays out,” Kasbo said.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence'sConnectivity & Tech Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the technology industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.