It's hard to wrap your brain around the fact that Elon Musk dropped this Tweet a mere five days ago in order to plant his flag upon the summit of his new empire. And what a five days it has been.
If there was any lingering doubt that The World's Richest Man [tm] planned to turn the western world's most influential social media platform into his personal playground, he's wasted no time removing all doubt. Removing his top executives. Saying they were fired for cause so that they'd have to learn to live on the tens of millions of dollars they'd already collected instead of getting severance piled on top of that. Weathering protests from semi-recognizable celebrities who've been taking to Twitter to claim they're leaving Twitter:
Personally, William S. Preston Esq. is the only one on this list I'd remotely miss. And I don't even follow him. But no one's compelling anyone to stay. Twitter is neither Squid Games nor is it Hotel California. Check out any time you like and leave.
And Musk's first major change - at least his first major proposal, seems to be this idea he's floating that all Blue Checks would have to pay a fee to keep their status. First, it was $20 a month:
The Verge - The directive is to change Twitter Blue, the company’s optional, $4.99 a month subscription that unlocks additional features, into a more expensive subscription that also verifies users, according to people familiar with the matter and internal correspondence seen by The Verge. Twitter is currently planning to charge $19.99 for the new Twitter Blue subscription. Under the current plan, verified users would have 90 days to subscribe or lose their blue checkmark. Employees working on the project were told on Sunday that they need to meet a deadline of November 7th to launch the feature or they will be fired.
From what I've heard, Twitter lost like $120 million or something last year. And if all the Blue Checks pay the 20 bucks, that would be enough to turn the company profitable. Personally, I've [humble] had the check [brag] since about 2015, and I'll be damned if I know what good it's ever done me. It's not like it comes with discounts like joining AAA. There aren't rewards points you earn or membership to some private club. It's essentially the same sort of status symbol as the 5-digit license plate I inherited from my mother-in-law. One that has no practical benefit beyond it making you look like one of the cool kids. So I seriously doubt it'll be worth $240 a year to me. I'll have to wait and see how I feel about it.
What is worth it, though, is watching the right people freak the fuck out about it. Especially one of the most notoriously weird celebrities of this or any age:
By way of full disclosure, I think Stephen King is a certified mad genius. I haven't read much of his stuff because I don't read a lot of fiction. But there's no questioning his talent. He wrote some of his most successful novels while he was so high he says he has no memory of them. THAT is genius.
But that doesn't mean he isn't an eccentric crackpot. People who have sat in the vicinity of King at Fenway say he's that guy who has something to yell on virtually every pitch. And when MLB opted to string some fine, mesh netting from the backstop to the dugout at every park to protect the paying customers, he was among the most vocal complainers, talking about what an affront it was to him. In short, he's exactly the kind of kook who'd bellyache about paying 20 bucks a month. Even though he made ten times that off the royalties from Carrie in the time it took him to type out the Tweet.
And since Twitter is now Musk's dojo and he's as good as anyone at fighting in this discipline, he had the perfect response to a multi-millionaire bitching about what is essentially seat cushion money:
Which now, it appears, might be the going rate. That what he's willing to do for the guy who gave us The Shining, Misery and Shawshank Redemption, he'll do for all us plebes. The way Jake from State Farm gives us the Patrick Mahomes rate:
Which, while it might not satisfy great published authors like King or me, at least shows Musk is willing to negotiate. That he's flexible enough to understand the old business model wasn't working, and he just spent $44 billion on a box that he must think outside of.
He's also, it seems, brought in his own experts to go through all the data. Some of whom worked with him at PayPal. Like a team of Tech Avengers. And they're looking for proof that old Twitter was messing with people, manipulating the algorithm, and promoting the things they wanted promoted. It would seem they've already struck some paydirt:
Stay tuned on that because that seems at first glance like a rabbit hole that will go deep enough to deserve its own blog. Or series of them. Because nothing involving this corporate raider or the corporations he raids is ever simple.
Finally, while all this has been going on at Musk's new toy, he's been operating his old toy. No, not that one. Or that other one. I mean, this one:
Holy moly. Your garden variety, every day type of tech billionaire just launches a rocket, has it safely make a pinpoint landing on a pad the size of a tennis court, and calls it a year. Or a lifetime. But Musk is the last of the true polymaths. For him, this is just another thing his brain is doing while he's putting Hollywood in a full blown panic, passive/aggressively mocking prolific authors and exposing possible corporate malfeasance. He does more in an hour than most people do in a lifetime. Or that the Thorntons have done in generations, believe me.
It's enough to exhaust you just thinking about it. Or wondering how he finds time to populate the Earth with all the superbabies he manages to conceive. All we know for sure is that if this is what he's done in his first five days in the office, his second week is going to be bananas.