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Elon Musk should ‘make Twitter a streaming service alternative’: Gary Vaynerchuk

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VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk sits down with Yahoo Finance Live's Dave Briggs at VeeCon on the direction Tesla CEO Elon Musk could take Twitter, including premiumization or subscription fees to use the platform.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: Twitter stock down again, and it's a day that ends in Y, which means Elon Musk is in the news yet again. He is, again, complaining that Twitter is not being forthright about their number of bots, regarding his purchase of Twitter. An attorney for Musk saying in a securities filing, quote, "Mr. Musk has made it clear he does not believe Twitter's lax testing methodologies are adequate, so he needs to conduct his own analysis."

Now, if Elon ever gets to the point that he does complete this deal at 54.20, or, perhaps, a lesser price, we will turn our attention to what he will do with Twitter. How does he get it to evolve? What does he do with it next? I asked serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, the founder of VaynerMedia and a very early adopter of Twitter, what he thinks ought to be done with Twitter. His answer might surprise you.

GARY VAYNERCHUK: I think what should be done with it is, let me ask everybody who's watching right now. Amazon is a lot different than the company we met 25 years ago. Netflix is crazy different than the way we met it. We used to send CDs in the mail to watch it. Facebook is different. Google is different. Everything is different, except for Twitter. Twitter is basically the same product we met in 2006.

I think what Elon should do, if I bought it, I would immediately make Twitter a streaming service alternative. I think Twitter has the credibility and the permission to compete with Netflix and Hulu because it's where we all go to talk about the things that we saw on Netflix and Hulu and television. I think it should get credit card subscriptions immediately. It should create a premium product that makes us pay 5 bucks a month. There's not a business on Earth that wouldn't be thrilled to pay 20 bucks a month to stay on Twitter the way they're on Twitter right now.

I think there's a lot of innovation that Twitter needs, simple things like an Edit button. How much of a pain in the ass is it when you misspell something, or it cut off what you said? And you got to delete it and write it again. Like, there's tiny UI/UX things.

So I think my intuition, given his track record, is, I'm sure everyone will talk about freedom of speech and this, that, and the other thing. And I'm empathetic to that. That's a big conversation. Me, as a business nerd, I just want to see him operate innovation within the product because I think the product could be much bigger.

DAVE BRIGGS: As usual, Gary, there's a lot there that's very intriguing. Let's start with number one. He thinks people and businesses would pay. Would agree on the business front. 20, 25, 30 bucks a month certainly sounds reasonable. On the individual level, I don't know. A buck or two a month tops in my estimation. But I'm curious, Seana, what do you think about Twitter as a streaming platform to compete with Netflix and/or Hulu and the others?

SEANA SMITH: It's not a bad idea. I don't think you can count it out. It's not something that I necessarily would see Twitter easily transitioning to. But if you were to ask me 20 years ago if Amazon would have made this strategic pivot here from the bookstore that it was to the retail behemoth that it is today, if Apple was going to transition from a product company to a bigger focus on software, I probably would have said no. So I think that Twitter does need to see a little bit more innovation in its business model. I wouldn't necessarily bet against Gary V. And it could be a good suggestion here. Rachelle, what do you think?

RACHELLE AKUFFO: I do definitely think that businesses would be willing to pay. People-- I don't know. We're a bit cheaper. I mean, unless you have a dedicated reason for why you go on. Like, a lot of us journalists, we're on there sort of doing research, getting the latest news. I don't know how willing everyone's going to be when they have to think of all the different things they have to pay for.

And in terms of doing the streaming, obviously, a lot of times, we'll stream something and maybe head to Twitter. I don't know if I want to sit in front of my phone for an hour, streaming something, and then tweeting it as well. That might be overkill. But I'm not sure how they would get into this streaming, if people would be willing to sit there and watch it. I, for one, wouldn't. I would use it for research, but that's about it.

DAVE BRIGGS: I would just say, Seana, the one thing that I want to see Twitter-- I mean, Twitter is a news source for most of us. I'm surprised they haven't found a way to monetize that form of it. I think that, to me, is what makes it the most valuable company of the social media platforms. Well, that's their edge. Can they profit from it? We shall see.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, that's a good point, and certainly something that they should capitalize on. So we'll see, if it's Elon Musk or whoever it is, transitioning its business, what direction they will go. But certainly a story that we will continue to watch.