Musk's Superpowers Are Being Ignored in His Twitter Takeover

There’s a lot of focus on Elon Musk’s Twitter Inc. purchase and plans to turn around the troubled social network. Most debates around the acquisition miss a crucial tenant of Musk’s glittering track record: He uses software to drive previously unimaginable advances in difficult problems, and then creates a virtuous spiral with investors and users. This approach is critical to understanding the future of technology and innovation in general, and Twitter in particular.

I make no prediction about how this will work with Twitter. On the one hand is Musk’s impressive record of success in businesses that were not thought to be amenable to radical software solutions. On the other hand is the difficulty of imagining the new and improved Twitter. There isn’t much insight to be gained from the immediate reactions of Twitter users and advertisers.

Two key points of general agreement though are that Twitter somehow created something of great social importance that is still poorly understood, and that the old Twitter management did a bad job of supporting that importance and monetizing it. Focusing on advertising revenue and worrying about scolds undercut the basic ethos of the platform to its valuable users. Old Twitter seems to have massively overspent on staffing for initiatives that did not appeal to users and were frequently abandoned when they did not produce quick profits.