kay, so last week we talked about the cratering ad revenue on Twitter, and then, just after I published, another major ad agency paused Twitter spending. But I wrote last week’s column to tee up the thing I actually want to talk about: the long-term plan to make Twitter less dependent on advertising.
On October 29th, Musk pal Jason Calacanis said on his podcast, All-In, “There’s no doubt that, I think, Elon can turn this around pretty quickly and make it massively profitable.” Even when he said it, it wasn’t quite true. Elon Musk already had a foray in media: the notable failure Thud, which apparently never had a plan to be profitable. After the events of the last couple weeks, I feel like I’m dunking on Calacanis just by quoting him. But whatever, we’re less than a month in, and it’s possible that in the long term Calacanis is right, so I am going to do my best to take this all seriously.
Here is something else Calacanis said that I am attempting to take seriously:
I think making everything verified and a path to verification, which Elon has talked about publicly many times, and payments, which he has talked about publicly many times, just those two things alone could make the experience of being on Twitter absolutely delightful. If everybody could verify themselves, this thing could turn around quickly.
Well, I think we all know how the Twitter Blue experiment went — canceled after two days! — but in fairness to Calacanis, that is not quite the same thing as verification. Musk is going to take another crack at it later. I hope it will be better because I truly do love Twitter, unfortunately, and I would prefer not to see some arrogant, out-of-touch Gen Xers drive it into the ground because they aren’t ready to deal with two generations of internet zooborns. On the other hand, you know, there is something karmically correct about Twitter trolling itself out of existence.
So, let’s discuss verification! Musk has a history with verifying users. He was bad at it.