X is the new name for Twitter, the app founded by Jack Dorsey in 2006, which has become one of the Internet’s most important websites and apps. Since Elon Musk acquired the company, the billionaire has made a series of changes, most of which have been criticized by its users, causing some to even leave the platform. This complex period for the company motivated Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg to create a new social platform called Threads, which emulates Twitter and aims to attract those who have been ostracized by Musk’s controversial comments and actions.
But, X doesn’t come out of the blue. Before Twitter’s acquisition, Musk spoke about his vision of an “everything app,” and Twitter seemed to be the vehicle to get to it. But what exactly is Musk’s vision for this app? Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far.
Why is Twitter now called X?
The “X” has been an obsession of Elon Musk. One of his early companies was X.com, an online bank co-founded by him with Harris Fricker, Christopher Payne and Ed Ho in 1999, in Palo Alto, California. According to Ashlee Vance’s biography of the billionaire, Musk envisioned creating a full-service online bank that provided checking and savings accounts, brokerages and insurance. In March 2000, the company merged with Confinity to form PayPal.
In 2017, Musk reacquired the domain, which now redirects to the Twitter website.
The letter X is also in the name of the Tesla SUV, and it’s also in his kid’s name, X Æ A-12.
On July 12, 2023, Musk founded xAI Corp, an artificial intelligence startup. He hired former employees from Open AI, Google, Tesla, Twitter and other companies. According to Musk, the company will work closely with Twitter and Tesla, companies which the entrepreneur leads, and one of its goals is to create an AI capable of advanced mathematical reasoning, something that he thinks other models lack.
But… what exactly is X?
Before buying Twitter in October 2022, Musk described the social media platform as “an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.” Musk said he was interested in creating a “super app” similar to China’s WeChat, India’s PayTM and Indonesia’s GoJek, which offer users the ability to send and receive payments, watch and listen to content and access to other services like food deliveries besides the usual posting that occurs on social media.
According to reports, Musk’s company secured money-transmitting licenses in three U.S. states earlier in July, which suggest he is preparing to transform X into a payment business. It’s not clear which would be his next step.
In June 2022, Musk reportedly told Twitter staff: “You basically live on WeChat in China. If we can recreate that with Twitter, we’ll be a great success.” At Tesla’s shareholder meeting in August 2022, Musk said he had “a pretty grand vision” for X as “something that would be very useful to the world.” However, it is still not clear what his full vision is. Some experts say it’s probable that Twitter becomes a mini-app within a larger platform.
Linda Yaccarino, Twitter’s chief executive, tweeted on Sunday that the rebranding of Twitter was part of the company’s goal to “transform the global town square” beyond a social network. “X is the future state of unlimited interactivity — centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking — creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine,” she tweeted.
What will change?
The first change Musk made was switching to a new logo described as “minimalist art deco,” which will be refined later. The new logo can be seen on Twitter, replacing the classic blue bird that has been the company’s image since its inception.
For now, there have not been any more changes announced, but it is expected that Elon Musk will start the process of transformation. Whether the users will stick around or if this will result in a new successful strategy remains to be seen.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition