Elon Musk’s Quixotic Quest to Flip X Into an ‘The whole lot App’



4 years in the past, a billionaire tech govt main one of many world’s pre-eminent social platforms laid out a imaginative and prescient to remodel it into an app that might do all of it. In a web based manifesto, he wrote that the app wouldn’t solely be central to written communications however have audio, video, funds, commerce and extra.

The concept was akin to that of an “everything app” espoused just lately by Elon Musk, the proprietor of Twitter. However the dream belonged to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief govt of Meta, which owns Fb, Instagram and WhatsApp. In a 2019 blog post, Mr. Zuckerberg outlined how he would flip WhatsApp into an app that could possibly be a platform for a lot of “sorts of personal providers.”

In Silicon Valley, the pursuit of an every part app has come up repeatedly as tech leaders have strained to broaden their digital empires. Mr. Zuckerberg tried it. So did Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief govt of Uber. Evan Spiegel, the top of Snap, mentioned he wished to go for it, too.

But these efforts fell brief, with the tech executives unable to duplicate the magic that has abounded in Asia with “tremendous apps” like China’s WeChat, Japan’s Line and South Korea’s KakaoTalk. U.S. tech giants have as a substitute run into cultural variations, regulatory scrutiny and a splintered monetary system that has made the search to construct such apps tougher.

And now Mr. Musk, who this week changed Twitter’s name to X, the moniker for his every part app, is chasing the identical aim — and is more likely to face the identical challenges.

In the USA, persons are “accustomed to single-service apps, which makes transferring to a multiservice app a bit disorienting,” mentioned Dan Prud’homme, an assistant professor of enterprise at Florida Worldwide College. “To some extent, U.S. prospects don’t like feeling that they’re too beholden to a single agency for his or her on a regular basis wants.”

Mr. Musk has been enamored with an every part app since not less than final 12 months. Weeks earlier than closing his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in October, he tweeted that his buy can be “an accelerant to creating X, the every part app.”

On Monday, he tweeted about Twitter’s rebranding to X, writing: “Within the months to return, we’ll add complete communications and the flexibility to conduct your whole monetary world. The Twitter title doesn’t make sense in that context, so we should bid adieu to the fowl.”

But Mr. Musk has mentioned little publicly about what his every part app would appear like, how it might perform or why folks would wish to use it. In November, Twitter filed paperwork with the Treasury Division’s Monetary Crimes Enforcement Community to become a payments processor, and workers have been constructing a funds service.

Mr. Musk didn’t reply to a request for remark.

His plan faces many doubters. He has “taken a wrecking ball to Twitter” and undermined how folks use the platform, mentioned Chris Messina, a tech entrepreneur and the creator of the hashtag. “It appears as if he’s going to construct a seize bag of various capabilities and ram it by means of the person base.”

A lot of the need to create an every part app is rooted in Asia, the place such apps have flourished for greater than a decade. In Japan, folks use Line, the nation’s dominant messaging platform, to retailer vaccination playing cards and store for garments. In South Korea, folks flip to KakaoTalk, which began as a messaging service, to ship cash and request taxi rides.

None have been as profitable as Tencent’s WeChat, a messaging, social media and funds app utilized by a couple of billion folks, largely in China. WeChat dominates the cell web and is a one-stop store to learn information, discuss with associates, order pizza or pay the owner.

Many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have lengthy thought of WeChat the gold commonplace for cell apps.

“For those who go to China, you see how a lot simpler every part is, and also you say, ‘I want I had that for myself,’” mentioned Ted Livingston, the founding father of the messaging platform Kik, which is backed by Tencent. “WeChat is successfully the working system of day by day life in China.”

In 2013, Snap’s Mr. Spiegel additionally referred to Tencent as a mannequin when it got here to creating wealth. In an interview last year with Axios, he spoke glowingly of Tencent’s continued success with WeChat and mentioned Snap was additionally constructing a “Snapchat tremendous app.” Tencent has invested in Snap, most just lately in 2017.

In 2019, following Uber’s preliminary public providing, Mr. Khosrowshahi echoed the tremendous app mantra. He mentioned he noticed his ride-hailing app because the “Amazon of transportation” and wished it to be the “operating system for your everyday life in a city.”

That very same 12 months, Mr. Zuckerberg said related ambitions for WhatsApp. Mr. Zuckerberg has since added cost and commerce options to Fb, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, although none have turn into an every part app.

That will come all the way down to completely different regulatory and cultural environments, Mr. Messina, the entrepreneur, mentioned. U.S. tech giants have come beneath heightened antitrust scrutiny from regulators world wide, however Chinese language tech firms which have Beijing’s blessing have flourished, even amid a crackdown on tech energy.

In November, Mr. Musk was requested at a companywide assembly at Twitter about his every part app thought, two individuals who attended the occasion mentioned. An worker famous that there have been elementary variations between Twitter and Tencent, the folks mentioned.

Mr. Musk responded that the questioner didn’t know what he was speaking about, earlier than asking for the subsequent query, the 2 attendees mentioned.

Mr. Musk has not held again on his predictions for X. “If completed proper,” he mentioned in a recent podcast interview, X may turn into “half of the worldwide monetary system.”

Linda Yaccarino, Twitter’s chief govt, has additionally appeared keen about X.

“X is the longer term state of limitless interactivity — centered in audio, video, messaging, funds/banking — creating a worldwide market for concepts, items, providers, and alternatives,” she tweeted on Sunday. “Powered by A.I., X will join us all in methods we’re simply starting to think about.”


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