Will people really pay $3 per month for Twitter?

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

As it looks increasingly likely that Elon Musk is serious about buying Twitter and taking it private, reporters have been scrambling to figure out precisely what the richest man in the world plans to do with the company once the deal closes. That’s expected to take another six months before all of the wrangling is complete. In usual Musk fashion, Elon isn’t making it easy to figure out because he has yet to release any sort of official agenda, instead just tweeting out various ideas and proposals. But the New York Times got hold of a “pitch deck” that Musk recently delivered to potential investors and more details emerged than had previously been made public. Two of his central plans stand out in particular. For one thing, he plans to go through and fire a lot of people. For another, he believes that he can massively increase the number of premium users who will pay a monthly fee to use the service. (Daily Mail)

Elon Musk is planning to fire 1,000 staffers at Twitter as soon as his purchase of the social media platform is complete. It’s believed he will fire many of the firm’s woke staff following the transfer of ownership which will take around six months, after which Musk is likely to wield the ax.

But then within the next three years, Musk anticipates making thousands of new hires, swelling the ranks to around 11,000 employees, up from 7,500 currently.

Much of the new talent is likely to be in the field of engineering.

Notice the use of the phrase “fire many of the firm’s woke staff…” Nobody’s really even trying to disguise what’s going on at this point. The people who have been in charge of censoring conservatives will be getting their walking papers, along with the entire board of directors. That won’t happen overnight, but it’s clearly on Musk’s list of higher priorities.

Musk is also considering shutting down the company’s entire headquarters in San Francisco to reduce expenses, converting the facility into a homeless shelter if he can work that out with the state and municipal governments. The vast majority of Twitter employees may wind up working remotely on a permanent basis.

Those are all cost-cutting measures, but Musk will still need to drive more revenue to reach his stated goals. In addition to advertising revenue and a new, mystery product that he only calls “X” for now, Musk also claims he will massively expand the service’s base of paid subscribers. For a small fee, you can already sign up for their premium “blue” level, but Musk is claiming that the number of paid subscribers will rise to 69 million in a few years.

Is that a realistic goal? I’ve yet to see Twitter release an official number of subscribers, but initial reactions from analysts in the tech sector suggest that the company had a “lukewarm” reception from users. Twitter currently claims to have just short of 400 million users who log on at least once per month. So Musk would need to convince more than one-fifth of that audience to start paying a monthly fee for a service that has traditionally been available for free.

Perhaps a lot of people will do it just to get a blue checkmark. (Presumably, once your payment clears you have been confirmed as a “real person.”) But aside from an edit or “undo” feature, you don’t get a lot more beyond that. I might consider signing up just as a nod to the lack of censorship and I already have a blue check, but I get the feeling I’m probably in the minority here.

Elon Musk has repeatedly said that he doesn’t care about Twitter’s profit or loss status “at all.” But he’s also a businessman. He can’t keep continually running it in the red and bleeding money, right? Yet he’s been amazingly successful in his other ventures, so we should probably give him the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what he does with it.