After one year under Elon Musk’s leadership, “X,” formerly Twitter, has seen a significant downturn in traffic, revenue, and user engagement.
Credit: Twitter account of Elon Musk/AFP via Getty Images

It’s October 27, 2023, marking exactly one year since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. During this period, the platform underwent a substantial transformation, with Musk rebranding it as “X,” a change that has altered the company’s trajectory. While analyzing Musk’s significant decisions that have shaped the company, a piece by Chris Taylor at Mashable delves into the impact of these decisions, specifically focusing on the resulting numerical changes, which are alarming.

The most prominent shift observed is the marked decline in the daily active user count—a metric traditionally emphasized by the company to indicate its growth. Shortly after Musk took charge in November 2022, he boasted about the platform’s growth, citing an increase from over 254 million daily active users before his involvement to nearly 260 million within a month.

However, during a recent tech conference, X CEO Linda Yaccarino revealed that the platform currently stands at 245 million daily active users per month, signifying a loss of approximately 3.7 percent.

Reassessing X’s Performance

Musk previously promoted other platform metrics like “new user sign-ups” and “active minutes” through a series of slides posted in November. At that time, the platform, still named Twitter, was attracting an average of two million new user sign-ups each day, along with users spending eight billion active minutes on the platform.

However, in a recent blog post, Yaccarino commemorating Musk’s one-year anniversary at the helm unveiled drops in these metrics. The post indicates a decrease in new daily sign-ups to 1.5 million and a drop in active minutes spent on the platform to 7.8 billion. These equate to a loss of 500,000 daily sign-ups and 200 million active minutes.

Data from mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower highlighted that X is the sole major social media platform to experience a decline in daily active mobile users over the past year, with usage decreasing by 16 percent over the last 11 months.

Moreover, downloads of X’s mobile apps have also taken a hit. While Musk’s takeover initially led to an increase in X’s mobile app downloads for three consecutive quarters before the rebranding, the most recent quarter, which encompasses the name change, saw a stark 38 percent drop—the platform’s lowest app download numbers since 2019.

When examining X’s website traffic through web analytics firm SimilarWeb, a 14 percent decline is evident when compared to last year.

Challenges in Ad Revenue

However, the most striking decline is observed in X’s advertising revenue. Musk has faced challenges in retaining advertisers due to his content moderation decisions and unconventional behaviors. A report from Reuters revealed that advertising revenue at X has steadily declined month after month since Musk’s acquisition, plummeting by 60 percent over a 10-month period ending in August.

Although X experienced growth in Premium subscribers, it’s not all positive news. When Musk assumed control, the subscription service, then called Twitter Blue, was considered experimental and had only tens of thousands of paying users. Presently, with X Premium serving as a vital avenue to compensate for lost ad revenue, estimates suggest a subscriber base of just under one million, paying $8 per month—nowhere close to covering the revenue void left by departing advertisers. In comparison, Snapchat, a social media competitor that launched a subscription service around the same time as X, recently announced 5 million paying users for its subscription service in just over 12 months.

Despite these challenges, X continues to operate. However, Musk’s substantial investment of $44 billion and the company’s ongoing financial struggles raise questions about its sustainability and investors’ returns in the future.

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