On Monday, the microblogging platform Twitter underwent a striking rebranding, becoming “X” after owner Elon Musk’s unexpected decision to rename the company and transform it into the AI-powered “everything app.” The Internet was abuzz with reactions to this spontaneous and rapid change. Here’s a scoop on some of them.
After being acquired by Elon Musk in October 2022, Twitter experienced a series of significant changes, from content moderation policies to pricing updates to management reforms. In addition, Musk’s commitment to AI development was also evident with the launch of an AI company called X.AI, along with the acquisition of graphics processing units and bringing AI talents from Google’s labs to Twitter.
After Twitter’s updates under Elon Musk, many longtime users were looking for an alternative platform. To ride the wave, in July 2023, Meta unveiled Threads, a text-based social media platform positioned as a Twitter alternative. Surprisingly, Threads reached 100 million users within five days of launch, becoming the fastest-growing app in history. However, the buzz soon faded and daily active users dropped by 70% in two weeks.
On Sunday, July 23, Elon Musk announced the rebranding of Twitter, playfully teasing the change with references such as: “And soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.” In a Twitter space called “No one talk until we summon Elon Musk,” the Twitter owner boldly declared: “We’re cutting the Twitter logo from the building with blowtorches.”
With this rebranding, Twitter is poised to embrace its new identity as “X,” aligning itself with Elon Musk’s vision of building an AI-powered service “as good as WeChat” that aims to become “a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities.”
“Twitter was acquired by X Corp both to ensure freedom of speech and as an accelerant for X, the everything app. This is not simply a company renaming itself, but doing the same thing.
The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth – like birds tweeting – but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video.
In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world. The Twitter name does not make sense in that context, so we must bid adieu to the bird.”
Elon Musk, Twitter owner, responding to journalist Jon Erlichman.
Unrolling the Buzz
On Monday, Twitter users were greeted with the letter “X” instead of the iconic bird logo in the left corner of the site, while X.com is now redirected to Twitter’s main page. The rebranding caused quite a stir among Twitter users, with reactions ranging from positive to negative, but always leaving people in awe.
Some Twitter users paid tribute to Larry, Twitter’s beloved icon, by posting pictures of the bird with the caption “I was fired.”
The first question that came up was about the new vocabulary for the service since it has always been closely tied to the idea of the Twitter bird. What should we call tweets from now on? X’s? Xeets? Xweets? Squeaks? One suggestion that quickly followed was “Twix.”
Journalists noted that Twitter’s transition to X seemed rushed, as not all references to the old name were removed immediately.
It took Twitter a few days to change the handle to @x, which originally belonged to another user, photographer Gene X Hwang, who told TechCrunch that no one had contacted him about his account beforehand, and they just took over his handle without any compensation.
After the debut and rapid growth of Threads, which essentially mimicked Twitter’s functionality, Twitter lawyers threatened to sue Meta for intellectual property infringement. However, Elon Musk’s quick rebranding to “X” seemed to outpace the competition, with some tweets joking that “X reached 100 million users in 15 minutes” — even faster than Threads.
The irony of the situation is hard to miss, as we all know that the entire user base was built over 17 years when the company was known as Twitter. Nonetheless, Elon Musk seems to enjoy all the jokes about how X went from 0 users to 500+ million users in a single day.
Meanwhile, brands have also jumped on the Twitter rebranding bandwagon, coming up with creative ideas for their own rebranding.
Others pointed out the challenge of rebranding a company that people have interacted with for years.
As for us at Everypixel, we couldn’t help but offer Larry a new job opportunity.
The most astute observers have noticed that the X logo already exists in Unicode as 𝕏.
Some have pointed out Elon Musk’s fondness for the letter X when it comes to naming things (and people). From his former company X.com (which later became PayPal) to SpaceX to even naming his child X Æ A-12, the letter X seems to hold a special place in Musk’s heart.
All joking aside, analysts are skeptical, estimating that Musk’s move could potentially wipe out $4 billion to $20 billion in brand value. However, Musk seems confident that they will eventually make it the most valuable brand in the world. “Mark my words,” he says. Well, we marked.