Billionaire Elon Musk teased his plans to create a mysterious app dubbed “X” on Wednesday, hours after he reversed course and offered to buy Twitter at its original price of $44 billion.
Musk has provided few details about his plans for “X” despite hinting about its development on multiple occasions in the last year. The Tesla CEO’s latest comment indicates he sees Twitter’s platform as a key building block.
“Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” Musk tweeted in his first public confirmation of the proposal.
Musk added that his acquisition of Twitter “probably accelerates X by 3 to 5 years, but I could be wrong.”
Musk’s surprise offer to proceed with the Twitter deal came just days before he was set to face off against the company’s legal team in Delaware Chancery Court. He had previously sought to back out of the $44 billion deal due to concerns about spam bots in Twitter’s user base.
The most recent hint about Musk’s vision for an “X” app surfaced in August, when one of his Twitter followers asked if he had considered creating his own social media platform.
“X.com,” Musk replied at the time.
While Musk hasn’t elaborated on what form an “X” app will take, Bloomberg noted that he has praised the Tencent-owned social media app WeChat, which allows users access to services ranging from payments to food delivery to ordering cars.
Conversely, WeChat is widely viewed as a government surveillance tool in China that is also subject to heavy censorship, even as Musk has touted his plans to remake Twitter as a beacon of free speech.
Musk expressed his affinity for WeChat and other so-called “super apps” during a town hall meeting with Twitter employees in June – referring to the Chinese platform as “great.”
At the time, the billionaire touted Twitter’s development of a similar platform as key to its long-term success. WeChat boasts more than one billion users.
“There’s no WeChat movement outside of China,” Musk said, according to a transcript of the meeting obtained by Vox. “And I think that there’s a real opportunity to create that.”
“You basically live on WeChat in China because it’s so useful and so helpful to your daily life. And I think if we could achieve that, or even close to that with Twitter, it would be an immense success,” Musk added.
Similar “super apps” offering more than just basic social media services are prevalent in other parts of Asia, including the Grab app in Singapore and Malaysia and Line in Japan, according to CNN.
The “X.com” domain name was previously linked to the eponymous financial services startup that Musk founded and later merged with PayPal. Musk reacquired rights to the website in 2017.
At present, the website’s homepage displays a single letter “x” in the top-left of a blank background, with no other links or graphics.
In personal texts that were published as part of legal proceedings in the Twitter case, Musk told his brother, Kimbal, that he had “an idea for a blockchain social media system that does both payments and short text messages/links like Twitter.”
“You have to pay a tiny amount to register your message on the chain, which will cut out the vast majority of spam and bots,” Musk added. “There is no throat to choke, so free speech is guaranteed.”
Musk’s idea called for users to pay small amounts of Dogecoin in order to post – though he acknowledged in subsequent texts that the idea for a blockchain-based version of Twitter “isn’t possible” due to performance requirements.
While Musk hasn’t elaborated on what form an “X” app will take, Bloomberg noted that he has praised the Tencent-owned social media app WeChat, which facilitates a variety of services ranging from payments to food delivery to ordering cars.
Conversely, WeChat is subject to heavy censorship in China, while Musk has touted his plans to remake Twitter as a beacon of free speech.
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