Twitter paywall: Elon Musk’s rumoured plan could help him pay his debt

Chaos at Twitter after botched layoffs and Musk's plans that change almost every day
Ameya Paleja
Twitter behind a paywall
Twitter behind a paywall

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A week after acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk wonders if he can put the entire site behind a paywall, the news outlet Platformer has reported. The plan to make such a move has been brought in after employees pointed out that the new subscription plan of Twitter Blue might make the company lose money.

When Elon Musk walked into Twitter headquarters with a kitchen sink at the end of October, he clearly thought that running the social media site was a piece of cake. Musk, who had been pondering the Twitter move since January, clearly isn't prepared to handle the task, and even parachuting engineers and advisors from Tesla haven't helped his cause.

After firing the Board of Directors and placing himself as the chair of the CEO, Musk has single-handedly taken decisions at Twitter. As we enter week two, these decisions already seem to be backfiring.

What's wrong with the new Twitter Blue?

Musk had announced with much fanfare to the world that verified users on Twitter would have to pay a $20 monthly subscription to retain their elite status. After some backlash, Musk reduced this fee to $8 a month and added a new feature that reduced ad load on the app by reducing advertisements for subscribed users.

Now estimates suggest that Twitter would lose about $6 in ad revenue per user per month in the U.S. markets, and factor in the revenue share of Google and Apple for the subscription, Twitter would start to lose money when the plan goes live. An employee told Platformer that new plans lacked business fundamentals.

Internal chaos at Twitter

Musk's aggressive plans to offer subscribers a host of features aimed to increase revenue streams at the social media company and unlock its true potential. However, with Musk at the helm, the company seems to be flailing.

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Earlier this week, Interesting Engineering reported that dozens of laid-off employees were being asked to return back to Twitter. This demonstrates that the process that took place without human interaction was carried out haphazardly without truly realizing the employees' contributions and the company's needs.

According to the Platformer report, the decisions were based on two lines of sentences, one describing the employee's role and the other justifying their continued employment at Twitter.

In the following week, the remaining workforce was split into two. One working on Musk's favorite project and are spending 20-hour workdays and the rest who do not have an organizational structure or chain of command or even a project to work upon. Some noted platformers were asked to listen to a podcast by Musk's adviser David Sacks to understand the macro environment they were working in and why half the employees had to be fired.

Paywalled Twitter?

Musk's original plan was to launch the subscription services by Saturday, and the company even published the release notes for the same. Following this, the management realized that with the mid-term elections in the U.S., the launch of the service would mean that thousands of verified accounts would enter the Twitter-verse, and the launch has now been postponed.

With the Twitter Blue disaster coming to light, Musk and his advisors are now pondering if the entire social media site could be put behind a paywall and ask everybody to pay to use it. One way to execute it would be to allow limited time usage each month, following which more content could be browsed by paying the subscription fee.

If such a move is executed, it would fly straight in the face if Musk's claims that the bird has been freed. Instead, the bird would be caged even tighter. Still, Musk, who needs to find a billion dollars every year to facilitate loan payments for his $44 billion buyout, might have fewer options as the CEO than when he was a potential buyer.

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