Elon Musk on Twitter: more than four months ago in a highly indebted $44 billion deal, said Twitter’s advertising revenue has fallen by as much as 50 percent since he took over.
But Elon Musk said there are still some large advertisers who continue to advertise on Twitter, and he singled out and thanked Disney and Apple at the 2023 Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, saying they are two of Twitter’s biggest advertisers.
Elon Musk also painted a critical picture of Twitter’s financial situation. He said the company could have gone bankrupt within four months amid declining ad revenue and the need to pay more debt (about $12.5 billion). The situation required “immediate and drastic action,” Elon Musk said.
In addition to reducing the number of Twitter employees from 7,500 to less than 2,000 (a drop of more than 70 percent), the company also scaled back its data centers from three to two to reduce cloud spending. All told, Twitter has reduced its annualized loss ratio (excluding $1.5 billion in debt payments) from $4.5 billion to about $1.5 billion and has achieved “the fastest product evolution in Twitter’s history.
There were some bumps in the road, but that’s to be expected,” Elon Musk said. Now we have a chance to grow Twitter into something amazing.” He added, “I don’t want to flag myself, but I think we have the potential to be cash flow positive in the second quarter.”
Elon Musk said Twitter has a lot of room for improvement in leveraging the time people spend on the platform to cash in. He claims that every day Twitter is able to attract 130 million hours of attention from “the smartest people on the planet”; however, the company currently only earns 5-6 cents per hour in advertising revenue from that time.
Elon Musk says his goal for Twitter is to be the most timely and accurate source of truth, “no matter how unpleasant it is. As a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” — who has reinstated many accounts that were banned for violating Twitter policies, including Donald Trump’s — Elon Musk reiterated his belief that Twitter is an important tool to safeguard free speech. “If we don’t have a solid foundation of free speech, I fear for the future of our civilization,” He said.
Today, he said, “the media controls the narrative,” and on Twitter, “the public can control the narrative. That’s a really great thing,” he said, describing the social network as a forum for “citizen journalists.
On Monday, Twitter experienced a widespread technical glitch that caused errors when users clicked on links to third-party sites. Elon Musk explained the glitch simply: “What was supposed to be a small change for 1% of the Twitter user base turned out to be catastrophic for 100% of the Twitter user base.”