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Jack Dorsey on Elon Musk’s X takeover and why he was right about free speech


Jack Dorsey has insisted the course of action taken by Elon Musk on X has been necessary in the pursuit of free speech.

In a wide-ranging interview with Pirate Wires, the man who co-founded Twitter backed Musk’s decision to abandon high-profile advertisers and make drastic cuts to the staff headcount.

Dorsey shares the vision of the Tesla and SpaceX owner to deliver a citadel of freedom online but to achieve this, it had to shed its existing revenue model. With a new focus on subscribers instead of mainstream, corporate advertising, X has had to take a step back to take a new direction. We are currently seeing this new path in real time.

Brand advertising was Twitter’s main income stream, a “core, critical sin” that reduced the app’s moderation to corporate influence which was effectively financing the social media platform, according to Dorsey.

“And when you’re entirely dependent on that, if a brand like P&G or Unilever doesn’t like what’s happening on the platform, and they threaten to pull the budget, which accounts for like 20% of your revenue? You have no choice,” he added. 

Jack Dorsey on Twitter’s new direction

When Musk later rebranded Twitter as X in 2023, he went on the offensive against advertisers after they balked at his apparent endorsement of an anti-semitic post on the platform. He blasted companies such as Disney and IBM, calling them the “greatest oppressors of free speech” and telling them in no uncertain terms, where to go.

This was the beginning of a new approach for X, and Dorsey understands why it was required.

“You have to build up a lot more than advertising to make that model work. You have to build subscriptions, which Elon is doing. You have to build commerce,” he explained.

“Twitter was a $5 billion a year business. I don’t know what it is now, but it’s obviously nowhere near that, right?”

“These are choices that can be made, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the same level of business for quite some time, until you figure out a completely different model around it,” Dorsey added. 

The 47-year-old internet entrepreneur also touched on his decision to walk away from the board of Bluesky, lamenting that it ended up “literally repeating all the mistakes we made at Twitter.”

Dorsey also spoke about government influence on the internet, artificial intelligence and the prospect of the price of Bitcoin exceeding $1 million by 2023, in what is a very informative, engaging interview and a great insight into the thinking of this influential individual.

Image credit: Ideogram

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