Why Elon Musk might rebrand Twitter using the X he’s obsessed with

The next version of Twitter under Elon Musk's management might say goodbye to the company's iconic bird
Twitter's current logo and the Twitter account of Elon Musk, the person who might change it.
Twitter's current logo and the Twitter account of Elon Musk, the person who might change it.
Image: CHRIS DELMAS (Getty Images)
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Elon Musk’s plans to buy Twitter for $44 billion appear to be back on, and as a result, the tech mogul is tweeting about the deal again. A couple of those tweets, posted in the waning hours of Oct. 4, make mention of an “everything app” Musk refers to as “X.”

“Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” wrote Musk on Twitter.

Usually “x” is used as a stand-in for a name when a person is outlining an example or new idea (e.g. “person x does y”). But in Musk’s case, referring to the next iteration of Twitter under his ownership as “X” is meaningful.

The entrepreneur has been obsessed with the domain since he launched it in 1999 as an online banking services platform that would later be renamed PayPal. In 2017, Musk repurchased the domain and has since kept it as one of his unused assets. That is, until the Twitter deal. In August, a few months after the acquisition process stalled, Musk mentioned the domain as a possible alternative social media platform if the deal fell through.

And if there’s any doubt about Musk’s penchant for naming things X, it’s worth remembering that his company SpaceX, his electric car, the Model X, and even one of his children, X Æ A-12, all bear the X moniker in some form.

Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter are bigger than just taking it private

“Twitter probably accelerates X by three to five years, but I could be wrong,” tweeted Musk on Oct. 4 when asked by another user why he didn’t just start a competing social network on instead of buying Twitter.

It’s not entirely clear what Musk’s end goal is if he does complete a purchase of Twitter, but some hints arose in the text messages revealed as a result of Twitter’s legal action against him. One idea involved moving Twitter to a decentralized model that might involve blockchain technology.

“I have an idea for a blockchain social media system that does both payments and short text messages/links like Twitter. You have to pay a tiny amount to register your message on the chain, which will cut out the vast majority of spam and bots,” Musk wrote in a text message on April 8.

However, a few weeks later, on April 25, Musk wrote, “Blockchain Twitter isn’t possible, as the bandwidth and latency requirements cannot be supported by a peer to peer network, unless those ‘peers’ are absolutely gigantic, thus defeating the purpose of a decentralized network.”

Changing Twitter’s name would allow Musk to take ownership of the company in a different way

Whatever the “everything app” turns out to be, it may involve a return to Musk’s roots of offering some form of digital payments, in addition to Twitter’s messaging functions.

And if Musk manages to seal the Twitter deal, will likely play a part in the next version of the company, possibly as the company’s new name, realizing a dream that has been in relative stasis for 23 years.