BY Wesley Diphoko 4 MINUTE READ

This week marks an end of the Twitter brand era as Elon Musk transforms the platform. If you type on your browser today you will now be redirected to As Elon Musk was announcing this change, some brand experts criticised this move and branded it as one of his crazy moves at the social network site. The reality is however completely different. The process underway at Twitter is more than just a rebranding exercise. Before we get to an understanding of what is unfolding at the soon to be slaughtered bird let us take a step back and reflect on the company that we’ve come to know as Twitter.

To tweet is now regarded as an act of typing a few words almost in the same way that birds chime a few sounds. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey once explained the name as follows “a short burst of inconsequential information”, and “chirps from birds”. Elon is now taking all of that to another level.

It is my understanding that Elon is now turning Twitter into a Super App. Elon is using Twitter as an accelerant of his dream. In the upcoming book, Elon Musk, Walter Issacson writes about the background of the name X and he helps us appreciate the fact that this is not the first time Elon has used X as a brand. During his early days as an entrepreneur was a digital financial entity that later became PayPal through a merger with a competitor Confinity and a partnership with Peter Thiel. Issacson explains “When his cousin Peter Rive visited in early 1999, he found Musk poring over books about the banking system. “I’m trying to think about what to start next,” he explained. His experience at Scotiabank had convinced him that the industry was ripe for disruption. So in March 1999, he founded His concept for was grand. It would be a one-stop everything-store for all financial needs: banking, digital purchases, checking, credit cards, investments, and loans. Transactions would be handled instantly, with no waiting for payments to clear. His insight was that money is simply an entry into a database, and he wanted to devise a way that all transactions were securely recorded in real time. “If you fix all the reasons why a consumer would take money out of the system,” he says, “then it will be the place where all the money is, and that would make it a multitrillion-dollar company.”

Musk was able to entice the influential head of Sequoia Capital, Michael Moritz, to make a major investment in Moritz then facilitated a deal with Barclay’s Bank and a community bank in Colorado to become partners, so that could offer mutual funds, have a bank charter, and be FDIC-insured. One of Musk’s management tactics, then as later, was to set an insane deadline and drive colleagues to meet it. He did that in the fall of 1999 by announcing, in what one engineer called “a wild move,” that would launch to the public on Thanksgiving weekend. In the weeks leading up to that, Musk prowled the office each day, including Thanksgiving, in a nervous and nervous-making frenzy, and slept under his desk most nights. One of the engineers who went home at 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning got a call from Musk at 11 a.m. asking him to come back in because another engineer had worked all night and was “not running on full thrusters anymore.” Such behaviour produced drama and resentments, but also success. When the product went live that weekend, all the employees marched to a nearby ATM, where Musk inserted an debit card. Cash whirred out and the team celebrated.

One driver of growth was a feature that they originally thought was no big deal: the ability to send money by email. That became wildly popular, especially on the auction site eBay, where users were looking for an easy way to pay strangers for purchases.

After a merger, with a company cofounded by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, the company became known as PayPal. “Musk insisted that the company’s name should be X, with PayPal as merely one of its subsidiary brands. He even tried to rebrand the payment system X-PayPal. There was a lot of pushback, especially from Levchin. PayPal had become a trusted brand name, like a good pal who is helping you get paid. Focus groups showed that the name, on the contrary, conjured up visions of a seedy site you would not talk about in polite company. But Musk was unwavering, and remains so to this day. “If you want to just be a niche payment system, PayPal is better,” he said. “But if you want to take over the world’s financial system, then X is the better name.”

Now that Elon Musk has resurrected we can almost be certain that Twitter will be more than just an entity that produces words but the one that conducts financial transactions. Days before the brand change announcement Twitter was rumoured to be creating an environment for job seekers to find information about jobs. The platforms now enables influencers to earn advertising dollars based on their profiles and their performances. The platform is becoming something we’ve never seen before. It’s also possible that we may see a form of collaboration with Musk’s ChatGPT competitor, xAI. A combination of all these features and future functions of the platform justifies the brand change. In the future the platform will do more than what Twitter was designed to do.

When Twitter becomes a Super App with a whole host of features it will make no sense to still call Twitter. What Elon Musk is doing at Twitter will go down in the history of management as one of the smartest moves toward building an audience for a tech product. Elon had enough money and choice to build his dream super app from scratch instead he chose to use Twitter as a stepping stone. The platform had loyal users who are likely to stay and adopt new features. The company that we will now know as X will become one stop shop for most things that we do online.