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Elon Musk envisions Twitter deal as a stepping stone to his 'X' app

Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley breaks down the latest on Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter and what his next steps may be.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: All right, now that he's committed to the deal, what will Twitter look like with Elon at the helm? Dan Howley here to talk about that. Dan, good to see you. Look, it's all just theories right now because Elon probably doesn't know himself. But he tweeted initially, buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app. Now, again, that is subject to a lot of determination. The theory is that it's maybe WeChat, owned by Tencent. What is your theory?

DAN HOWLEY: It could be literally anything. I mean, the idea of X is really-- he owns x.com. If you go to x.com right now, it is a blank page with just a, like, lowercase x on it, so nothing wild. But it could be something where-- I mean, this is all speculation, essentially, but it could be part of a larger endeavor that he's trying to reach into, maybe tied to Tesla, maybe a social network. He had pitched this and talked about it previously when he was going around to different banks, looking to get financing for Twitter itself. So we don't really know much about this.

I think Twitter itself, the changes come with Musk would be around, obviously, the bots and what he wants to do there, which is cut down on them, which, I mean, look, you have sites like Facebook or Instagram or TikTok that are still dealing with bot issues, right? So he's not going to be able to eliminate bots totally. They're still going to exist on these platforms.

He's also talked a lot about moderation and how he wants to really ease up on that and how he wants to take away a lifetime ban. So that opens the door to former president Trump getting back on the platform and what that means for the service. I mean, look, there's moderation and then there's keeping the worst of the internet off of the platform. And I think if you do go too loose on moderation, then you lose the ability to have a place that people actually want to visit.

And Twitter is awful right now, by the way. People are the worst on Twitter. I think it's the worst of any platform as far as conversation goes. Imagine loosening that. That would be awful. So, you know, I don't know if people want to stay there, advertisers as well. That's also a big question.

SEANA SMITH: Well, Dan, we talked about this with Brent Thill from Jefferies yesterday, and he called Twitter the, quote, "the single worst experience online." He's saying that the top priority of Elon Musk should be a total overhaul of its interface. I guess if we do potentially see that, what do you think that means that Twitter could look like here down the road?

DAN HOWLEY: Well, look, Twitter was never an easy service to get into, right, similar to Snapchat. But that hasn't stopped Snapchat from continuing to grow. And yet, Twitter is growing very slowly. I do think that they need to make it more user friendly. They also need to make sure that the conversation on there isn't so awful. I think if you-- I mean, Twitter is basically a cesspool when you're on it, right? Unless you're following--

DAVE BRIGGS: You're a fan.

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, I mean, look, I'm on Twitter all the time. We all are. We're journalists. That's what we have to do, right? But when you look at Twitter, it's just-- I think it's the internet's id basically come to life nonstop. So they need to do something to make it more of an interesting place for people to go.

Instagram managed to do that because it's got photos. TikTok does that because it has videos. What can they do for Twitter to make it more of an interesting place that people can go to that isn't just vitriol nonstop? And yeah, maybe that's what they lean into with Twitter, but I don't necessarily know if that's the, quote unquote, "accelerant" that will make it really take off.

DAVE BRIGGS: Yeah, it's really figuring how to monetize the outsized influence of the platform.

DAN HOWLEY: Right.

DAVE BRIGGS: Which maybe is at the heart of the mystery for Elon because, look, we all talk about it 10x times in terms of the news business. And that will be a huge challenge for Elon.

SEANA SMITH: It will be interesting to certainly see what it looks like under Elon Musk, but only time will tell. All right, Dan Howley, thanks so much for hopping on here with us.