Elon Musk has been creating polarizing headlines since his Twitter acquisition. From the abrupt layoffs to the promotion of citizen journalism, the platform is currently undergoing a major, public overhaul that the entire world is equally enjoying and stressing about.
On today’s episode of Startups On Demand, I am joined by James Spiro, Journalist and Editor at CTech where he covers the Israeli tech scene and its impact on the world. He often writes about the political, cultural, and social impacts of technology around us.
Today, we share our thoughts on Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition, the democratization of news, the controversies surrounding Sam Bankman-Friend and FTC, and what he thinks is the most promising tech sector in the world.
Omri: What are your thoughts about the recent storm of events on Twitter; Elon Musk taking over, and the layoffs that took place?
James: It’s basically been a never more exciting time to be on Twitter and watching this unfold in real-time. I’ve always said that Twitter is the Post in the conversations of the Western world. Presidents have governed on it, and Presidents governed because of it. What’s happening now is really crazy not only because someone took over and decided which accounts should be banned or whatnot, but also because he’s doing it very publicly and openly. He’s criticizing the government and media; and people seem to be scared of it, as well as loving it. As an observer, it’s one of the most exciting times on the platform. And I’ve been on the platform since 2009.
Omri: What’s your take on being a journalist and touching the creator economy?
James: I’ve been interested in the creator’s economy and the democratization of news. That’s how I see it, and that’s how I think Elon Musk sees it as well. I think what he’s showing through his acquisition is that he’s a bit fed up with places like The New York Times, Fox, or CNN – these publications with an editorial agenda. What he wants to do is put the power back to the people. And I think that is what these legacy media companies are threatened by.
Omri: What’s your take on earning vs. buying a verification badge?
James: I got a verified badge about a year ago and it immediately changed my experience with Twitter as the algorithm favors verified accounts. As for the payments and how it works, it’s only available for people buying Twitter Blue. What happens is accounts that have 10 or 20 followers that have been around for 2 weeks can now be verified for as long as they give Twitter their credit card. The libertarian in me goes like “go for it, everyone deserves the opportunity” but another side of it is that they’re actually there for a reason, and what we’re seeing now is that people are paying $8 to be someone they’re not. So basically what they’re doing now is paying to troll.
Omri: What’s your take on the revenue streams and monetization opportunities on media platforms nowadays? People don’t work with advertisers anymore and they don’t buy subscriptions of the same amount as they used to. Where is this going and what are their options?
James: I think advertising’s inevitable. If we have platforms like this with hundreds of millions of people on them, they’re going to have promoted tweets and adverts through videos. I’m always blown away by the number of adverts on Twitter in the States. I think Elon wants to reduce the adverts, and I also think he wants to make money in a crucial way. I think what people are forgetting is that Musk has a proven track record of running businesses properly. And I think what we’ve seen in what he has done, especially with the layoffs, is that goes in and cuts the fat and he makes it operate in a better way.
Omri: What do you think about Elon Musk’s ethical standpoint in writing the narrative on Twitter?
James: Twitter has that undeniable power that the world does ride off of. I don’t think Musk wants to be the voice on top of everyone. I think he wants to go back to that citizen journalism democratization.