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Will Twitter Go Bankrupt? Elon Musk's Plans to Transform Twitter into a Payments Company

Author: Patrick BoyleTime: 2024-02-02 05:40:00

Table of Contents

Elon Musk's Tumultuous Takeover of Twitter

In April 2022, Elon Musk announced his intention to buy Twitter, which many people thought was a joke at first. He secured financing for a $44 billion deal and took over Twitter, pledging to take a more 'free speech' approach.

Musk laid off about 80% of Twitter's 7,500 employees, stopped paying rent on offices, and closed a data center to cut costs. However, over 500 advertisers paused spending on Twitter to see how content moderation would change under Musk, causing revenues to plummet.

Musk's $44 Billion Twitter Buyout

Musk provided $46.5 billion in equity and debt financing to acquire Twitter. About 60% came from Musk selling his Tesla shares, and banks provided $13 billion in debt financing. Other investors like Jack Dorsey and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal contributed the remaining $7 billion.

Advertiser Exodus and Revenue Declines

With Musk's planned content moderation changes, over 500 advertisers paused spending on Twitter, causing daily revenues to fall 40%. Personnel costs were always Twitter's largest expense. Despite laying off 80% of staff, missing revenue targets put Twitter on track to lose $3 billion in 2023.

Chaotic Twitter Blue Verification Rollout

Musk launched Twitter Blue verification for $8/month, but it caused chaos as scammers impersonated brands like Eli Lilly. Real brands pulled ads, costing Twitter millions. The rollout was a disaster, earning under $2.5 million per month, far short of the $1.5 billion needed annually to service debt.

Musk's Grand Vision for Twitter's Future

Musk has big plans to turn Twitter into a payments company capturing nearly half the world's transactions. However, payment apps are already ubiquitous via Apple Pay and Google Pay. Users don't seem to want an unstable social network handling their money and savings.

Can Twitter Pivot to a Payments Company?

Monetization Plans So Far

Beyond Twitter Blue, Musk's plans include tipping, premium video content, and reduced ads for Twitter Blue subscribers. But these incremental changes won't offset the huge declines in advertising revenue under Musk.

Competing Against Established Payment Apps

Turning Twitter into a payments app makes little sense when Apple Pay and Google Pay are already available but rarely used for in-store purchases. And users likely wouldn't trust Twitter with their money given its financial instability.

What Happens if Twitter Goes Bankrupt?

If Twitter keeps losing billions under Musk and misses debt payments, it could go bankrupt. The banks that lent Musk money would likely take over Twitter. While Musk could invest more of his wealth into Twitter, he has not indicated plans to do so.

The Road Ahead for Twitter

Twitter's prospects look poor given plunging revenues, user engagement, and reputation under Musk. But Musk believes he can still turn things around and make Twitter a hugely successful payments company in the next year.


Q: Why did advertisers leave Twitter?
A: Many top advertisers paused spending on Twitter due to controversies around content moderation changes and hate speech under Elon Musk's ownership.

Q: What is Elon Musk's plan to save Twitter?
A: Musk plans to transform Twitter into a payments company handling half the world's financial transactions, while also exploring other monetization like subscription revenue.

Q: Can Twitter really become a payments platform?
A: It will be incredibly difficult for Twitter to compete with established payment apps from tech giants when digital wallets have failed to displace cards.

Q: What happens if Twitter goes bankrupt?
A: If Twitter is unable to make interest payments, lenders could take over ownership of the company.

Q: Will advertisers return to Twitter?
A: Some advertisers have returned but ad spend is still down 50-60%, so revenue recovery remains uncertain.

Q: Has user engagement increased under Musk?
A: No, daily active users have declined by 16% according to data, despite Musk's claims of increased engagement.

Q: Can Twitter be profitable again?
A: It's possible but difficult. Musk needs to staunch revenue declines while delivering on ambitious new products to attract users and dollars.

Q: What's next for Twitter?
A: The road ahead is challenging. Musk has given the company a year to build payments and subscriptions products to save Twitter.

Q: Will Elon put more money into Twitter?
A: Maybe. With Tesla stock up, Musk has over $30 billion more in wealth this year. He could further fund Twitter if needed.

Q: Can Twitter turn things around?
A: It's improbable but not impossible if Musk rights the ship. Much depends on rebuilding revenue and rolling out innovative new products.