Tech

X is not a super program. It’s just Twitter | WIRELESS

Last time Elon Musk flipped his users the bird to change Twitter’s logo to a smiling Shiba Inu — a hilarious inside joke that boosted the value of Musk’s investor Dogecoin cryptocurrency by 30 percent. The class action lawsuit is still pending.

Over the weekend, the former richest man in the world created a logo for the platform, which this morning was renamed X. Twitter — sorry, X — CEO Linda Yacarino tweeted– sorry h’ed – that the company has been radically reimagined to create a platform “focused on audio, video, messaging, payments/banking — creating a global marketplace for ideas, products, services and opportunities. Powered by AI.”

The new branding, which users have noted looks a lot like standard Unicode X, is the latest iteration of a concept Musk has been pushing since the late 1990s. He first tried to start an online bank on x.com until he was kicked out of the company, which renamed itself PayPal after its only successful service. After buying the x.com domain back in 2017, Musk added to that vision: messaging, e-commerce, video, and now artificial intelligence, all on one platform.

“There are absolutely no limits to these transformations,” Yakarino said. “X will be a platform that can deliver, well… everything.”

It won’t happen. To create a super app, X would need to build an entirely new financial technology infrastructure, win over regulators through open and diligent enforcement, and earn the trust of users and advertisers who abandoned Twitter after Musk took over.

“If you’re losing brand equity and losing user experience, you’re already three laps behind in the race,” says David Schrier, professor of the practice of artificial intelligence and innovation at Imperial College Business School. “It’s a 23-year-old business plan that didn’t work then and is now being implemented in a worse market position,” he says of Twitter’s rebranding to X.

The core of any super app will be payments, which allow people to pay each other, pay businesses for goods and services, and get paid for the same. In January, Twitter began applying for US transaction processing licenses in an initiative reportedly led by Esther Crawford, whose startup Squad was acquired by Twitter in 2020. Crawford, who posted a photo of herself lying on the floor of the Twitter office during Musk’s early days, was fired in February.

On Sunday, Crawford tweeted what appeared to be a veiled dig at the rebranding. “Corporate seppuku: destroying one’s own product or brand,” she wrote. “Typically committed by new management in pursuit of savings due to a lack of understanding of the core business or a disregard for the customer experience.”

Tech companies have often sought to enter fintech as a way to gain more revenue from their users and turn platforms into broader ecosystems of products and services. Companies like Uber and Grab and Go-Jek from Southeast Asia have launched financial products that they can use to pay drivers and accept payments from users. Meta has made several attempts to integrate payments into its successful marketplaces, but with limited impact. In April, Meta rolled out WhatsApp payments in Brazil. Apple started building Apple Pay with Apple Card and Apple Savings.

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