Elon Musk’s Twitter revamp is set to kick off tomorrow, with the billionaire expected to cut half of all Twitter jobs on Friday and introduce a controversial $8-a-month blue check-mark charge for verified users by Monday.
Musk, 51, wavered throughout his attempt to buy Twitter on how many positions he would eliminate, originally saying as many as 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 workers (5,625) would be cut, before some reports suggested it would actually be 25 percent (which would amount to 1,875).
The 3,700 cuts now being touted would amount to about half the staff, and would see them follow out five high-level executives who have resigned in the past week.
Since acquiring the social media company for $44 billion, Musk, 51, has been looking for ways to drive down costs and increase revenue.
Another idea he has pitched is a charge for a blue tick – the mark used to identify verified users – claiming the move will end the current ‘lords and peasants’ system.
The ‘badges’ could go live as soon as Monday, Bloomberg reported, with current blue check holders receiving a ‘grace period’ of multiple months before being forced to either pay or lose the badge, which is as a verification mark for high-profile users.
Musk’s touted move has been criticised by some, who say key users of the platform create the content that gives it value. Others have said previous attempts by companies to monetise something previously free have seldom been successful.
What are Musk’s plans for Twitter? Here are five things the world’s richest man has touted to bring down costs, raise revenue, and bring it more in-like with his vision:
- Begin charging users $8-per-month to have a blue tick next to their username
- Cut around 3,700 jobs – half of Twitter’s staff
- End Twitter’s ‘work from anywhere’ policy, introduced earlier this year
- Makes changes to Twitter’s moderation policy to promote ‘free speech’ and reduce what Musk sees as overzealous suspensions and bans
- Introduce a new paid video feature, that has been likened to OnlyFans
Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter are coming into view, with the billionaire set to slash 3,700 jobs by the end of this week and starting to sell subscription blue checks for $8 a month to start next week
Musk, 51, has been pitching his idea for a blue check fee since he bought the company, claiming it will end the current ‘lords and peasants’ system on the social media platform
In addition, by the end of this week, Musk plans to eliminate about 3,700 employees and end Twitter’s ‘work from anywhere’ policy in an attempt to drive down costs
Musk originally suggested $20 a month for verification but appeared to lower the cost after an exchange earlier this week with horror writer Stephen King, where he offered him a discount.
The billionaire is looking to make good on his promise to make the social media platform turn a profit by introducing a charge for Twitter users wanting to keep their verification badge.
Musk suggested publishers who are ‘willing to work’ with Twitter will get a ‘paywall bypass’ and social media stars will also be getting a secondary heading like politicians. Content creators will also get rewarded through a revenue stream.
‘You get what you pay for,’ the father-of-eight tweeted on Wednesday. He also celebrated ‘being attacked by both the right and left simultaneously,’ calling it a ‘good sign.’
But in a sign that the price might not be a done deal, Musk responded to a tweet from the author of The Shining complaining about the new charge.
‘$20 a month to keep my blue check? F*** that, they should pay me,’ wrote King, who has 6.9 million followers. ‘If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.’
But Musk, noticing the author’s complaints, seemed to be in the mood to haggle.
Author Stephen King, who wrote The Shining, said he will leave the platform if Musk introduces a blue-tick verification charge
‘We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?’ he replied.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the discount would apply only to King or to the wider Twitter user base as well, but the comments suggested the $20 figure was not exactly set in stone.
Musk went on to say that he will ‘explain the rationale in longer form’ before the charge is implemented, but added that it is ‘the only way to defeat the bots & trolls’.
When users replied to say King could more than afford the fee, he replied: ‘It ain’t the money, it’s the principle of the thing.’
The author, who has previously said he ‘admires Elon Musk’, hasn’t yet responded to the chief executive directly. But many of his fans rushed in to comment in his stead.
’44 Billion to buy the place and his new revenue stream is to push a tin cup at Stephen King,’ said one Twitter user.
‘It’s nice of you to give Stephen King who is worth $500M a $12/mo discount,’ said another.
‘He’s not leaving. They all threaten but they need this platform,’ said a third user.
Actress, writer and comedian Kathy Burke also said she wouldn’t pay if a charge is introduced tot he platform
King isn’t the only blue-tick Twitter user to threaten to abandon their check marks if a charge is introduced to the platform.
Actress, writer and comedian Kathy Burke also said she wouldn’t pay.
‘Musk can f*** off with his idea of charging blue-tickers. I give my all to this hell site for FREE. Cheeky b**** should be paying ME. Don’t need the poxy thing anyway.’
Celebrities who have threatened to boycott the site include TV screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, actor Mia Farrow, as well as Madam Secretary star Téa Leoni, She Hulk actor Jameela Jamil, as well as authors and activists Shaun King and Amy Siskind.
George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, also said he would consider heading for the digital door.
Entrepreneur Jason Calacanis posted a poll on Monday asking people if they would pay $5, $10 or $15 a month, or nothing for verification. Around 81 per cent said they wouldn’t pay, as of the time of writing.
‘Interesting,’ said Musk in response to the poll.
There are roughly 400,000 verified users on Twitter. Should all users currently with a blue tick decide to pay the $8-a-month fee, Twitter would rake in $3.2 million per month, and $38.4 million each year – which is unlikely to cover the costs incurred from Musk’s $44 billion acquisition.
Elon Musk is pictured speaking with employees at Twitter HQ. The CEO allegedly issued an ultimatum to the platform’s engineers, telling them to revamp the platform in two weeks
Another prominent Twitter user, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), called out Musk for trying to sell ‘free speech’ with the blue check charge – leading Musk to retort: ‘Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8.’
AOC, 33, isn’t shy when it comes to making her opinions known on SpaceX founder, and on Tuesday evening she called out Musk over the proposal.
‘Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that “free speech” is actually an $8/[month] subscription plan,’ she wrote.
A blue tick badge allows other Twitter users to verify that other users are who they say they are.
The feature has always been free since Twitter’s inception, but since Musk first promised to buy Twitter, the world’s wealthiest man has made it clear he planned to shake things up at the social media giant.
The price will cover unspecified features which have not yet been revealed.
A blue tick badge allows other Twitter users to verify that other users are who they say they are. The feature has always been free since Twitter’s inception, but Musk is promising to shake up the company’s operations
The exchange comes after the new Twitter boss allegedly issued an ultimatum to the platform’s engineers, telling them to revamp Twitter’s verification system in less than a fortnight or face the sack.
Employees were only told of the project on October 30, and have until November 7 to deliver.
Since Elon’s take over, the social media site has limited some content moderation tools – just before the midterm election.
It may hamper staff’s ability to stop misinformation, as they will not be able to manually change or punish accounts.
The change is the latest implemented by Musk and comes after he made significant staff cuts and fired the Twitter board, making himself the sole member.