Twitter is Now ‘X’ & How Does This Affect You?
Elon Musk is putting his mark on Twitter by rebranding the social media platform as simply ‘X’. The move comes as Musk aims to overhaul Twitter after his controversial $44 billion takeover.
However, Musk’s history with ‘X’ stretches back over two decades. His obsession with the alphabet started in 1999 when he founded X.com. Then a year after that, in 2000, he merged that with Confinity, which was rebranded to what we all know as Paypal.
As it later transpired, PayPal became immensely more popular than X, which is why the original merger happened. After that, Musk returned to the company as CEO a few months after its then-former co-founder, Peter Thiel, resigned.
Fortune, in 2007, reported that Elon Musk had stirred a great deal of controversy at the company (PayPal) because he wanted to transfer the business’s platform to Windows or a related Microsoft operating system. He was firmly against continuing with the Unix-based system that PayPal was using. That triggered a war within PayPal, leading to Musk’s firing as CEO and later ouster.
It was later, in 2017, when Elon Musk officially purchased the ‘X’ from PayPal, and paid millions for it too. According to insiders, Musk has great sentimental value associated with the name. Fast forward six years, and Musk has used the domain to replace Twitter.
So, how does all of this, i.e. Twitter.com redirecting to X.com, affect us? Fortunately, not a great deal, but some have taken this change harder than others. Let’s examine why.
X Marks the Spot
The transition to ‘X’ began when Musk changed Twitter’s website domain from twitter.com to x.com. The original x.com domain name was acquired by Musk back in 2017 and previously belonged to his online payment company, PayPal (as detailed earlier). Musk has long favoured the letter ‘x’ in his business ventures, including SpaceX and Tesla’s Model X.
An ‘interim’ X logo was also rolled out, replacing Twitter’s iconic blue bird on Musk’s profile and in some branding. Musk tweeted that Twitter’s physical bird statues outside its San Francisco headquarters would be cut off with blowtorches to signify the new era. The minimalist X logo harkens back to the early internet days when simple design was king. This is still true in many ways, with many companies simplifying their logos.
User Reactions Mixed At Best
Musk fans and allies applauded the rebrand to X as bold and decisive leadership. However, many longtime Twitter users reacted negatively, questioning the need to change such an established global brand name. There is concern that the flux in identity could destabilise the platform. Musk insists the transition to X will stick, shutting down suggestions that this change is temporary.
Musk is, after all, known for taking risks most other billionaires would shy away from, and this is no exception. The gamble could pay off, and if it does, it will benefit Musk as he is working on changing more than just the logo.
The rebranding reflects Musk’s desire for greater central control and consistency across his disparate business ventures—X ties together his interests from Tesla to SpaceX under one identifiable umbrella. Musk aims to morph Twitter into an “everything app” called X, like China’s WeChat. The X identity creates alignment with this vision for an all-encompassing super app.
Then, there is also the fact that Musk wants to create a brand that’s hard to forget. But in doing so, he may be creating one that’s also confusing and could require a great deal of expensive marketing to overcome. For instance, many people could easily assume that X has something to do with the Xbox, or X-Factor, or X Com. The list of similar-sounding brands is longer than what is worth listing here.
Musk wasted no time dismantling remnants of the old Twitter regime. He instantly fired top executives upon takeover before laying off roughly half the workforce. Changing the name to X helps cement Twitter’s transformation under his command.
The Twitter branding had become divisive, given the polarising nature of the platform. X provides a symbolic fresh start in Musk’s quest to remake Twitter. Musk said he chose the name X as it has no concrete meaning, allowing the platform’s new identity to take shape organically.
As well as cosmetic changes like the logo and name adjustment, Musk is rapidly overhauling Twitter’s products, policies and business model. He wants to open up free speech, diversify revenue through subscriptions, verify all users and add new features like long-form articles.
While provocative, Musk’s willingness to boldly shake things up has attracted renewed user interest. The ‘X’ rebrand signals a new direction that Musk promises will make the platform more appealing and relevant.
Risks & Challenges
However, such an abrupt transformation also carries significant risks. Stripping away Twitter’s iconic bird logo and name threatens brand equity built up over 16 years. Millions of users know it simply as Twitter. There are still unanswered questions about how the shift to X will be communicated widely.
The haphazard rebranding process also raises concerns. Musk bypassed consultation and feedback, unilaterally making significant decisions affecting hundreds of millions of users. If the transition alienates users who found Twitter’s identity engaging, it could undermine the hopeful revitalisation Musk envisions.
While ditching the burden of the Twitter name may liberate the platform, the road ahead for X remains dotted with challenges. Only time will tell if Musk’s rebrand gamble makes the platform more valuable and relevant for the modern digital age.
Would you X your favourite brand, X your friend, or X a news story? Yes, it sounds bazaar, but so did tweeting. It took a few years of hefty marketing to overcome the strangeness; the same can be said for the transition to X.