In one of the biggest interviews since he bought Twitter, billionaire Elon Musk said that the micro-blogging site is “roughly breaking even” and that most of the advertisers who had jumped ship have returned.
During a live interview with the BBC on Wednesday (which was recorded on Twitter Spaces), Musk dismissed concerns about rise in hate speech and misinformation, that skyrocketed on the social media platform during the early months of his new regime. When asked about the increasing amount of hate speech on the platform, the Twitter CEO asked the BBC journalist for an example before saying, “You can’t even name a single one…you just lied.” The interview has more than 3 million listeners so far.
And when confronted on the issue of the spread of misinformation on COVID-19, Musk accused the BBC of spreading misinformation about masking and vaccination, adding that “Covid is no longer an issue.” Concerns about the rise of hate speech and misinformation on Twitter had skyrocketed after Musk revamped Twitter Blue – the platform’s subscription service – to let anyone who is willing to pay a monthly or yearly fee get the coveted “Blue Tick” checkmark. This resulted in an increase of verified accounts on Twitter, which made it difficult and nigh-impossible to ascertain if the posts made from the accounts were from legitimate users or not.
In the interview, Musk went on to add that the aggressive cost-cutting efforts that he had undertaken over the past few months had started bearing fruit. This is a pity since it came at the cost of the jobs of numerous employees at the social media company (including many engineers responsible for fixing and preventing service outages. The lack of engineers has resulted in Twitter facing multiple glitches and bugs this year). When Musk had taken over the reins in October, Twitter had just under 8000 staff members. Nearly six months down the line, the social media company is limping forward with a skeleton crew of around 1500 employees, owing to the fact that Twitter resorted to massive layoffs during the past months as part of its cost-cutting efforts.
“We could be cash-flow positive this quarter if things go well,” Musk said in the interview, adding the company currently has all-time high user numbers. Furthermore, he added that the platform was in a $3 billion negative cash flow situation and thus, he had to take drastic actions. Musk’s antics had driven numerous advertisers from the platform, who feared that their ads would show up during malicious or inappropriate content. Now, Musk claims that most of the advertisers have returned to the platform and that the massive decline in advertising since the acquisition was due to the cyclical nature of ad spending, some of which was “political.”
“Almost all of them… have… either come back or said they’re going to come back, there are very few exceptions,” Musk said, adding, “I actually don’t know of anyone who said definitively they’re not coming back. They’re all sort of trending to coming back. ‘Hey, jump in, the water is warm, it’s great.’”