Given that impact, I can see why Elliott Management would look at Twitter and wonder why it is that the company can’t manage to make more money, but the fact that Twitter is the nexus of online information flow reflects the reality of information on the Internet: massively impactful and economically worthless, particularly when ads — which themselves are digital information — can easily be bought elsewhere.
So let’s review: there is both little evidence that Twitter can monetize via direct response marketing, and reason to believe that the problem is not simply mismanagement. At the same time, Twitter is absolutely essential to a core group of users who are not simply unconcerned with the problems inherent to Twitter’s public broadcast model (including abuse and mob behavior), but actually find the platform indispensable for precisely those reasons: Twitter is where the news is made, shaped, and battled over, and there is very little chance of another platform displacing it, in large part because no one is economically motivated to do so.
Given this, why not charge for access?
I tell you, when Thompson gets it, he really gets it. “Massively impactful and economically worthless” could be etched in the stone foundation of Twitter’s headquarters.
I happen to be one of the truly sick freaks for whom Twitter is their favourite social network, and I think that is true in part because I do not really understand it. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest — I get what they do and what they are for. But Twitter? It is brief bursts of shouting, shared links, photos, reply guys, and automated feeds. It is chaotic.
I like it so much that I would pay $50 a year to be a member — no joke. And I do not want more half-steps like Twitter Blue. Just charge me for access and I am sure I would pay it, like I would have done for the past fourteen years I have had an account with the site.