Focus Groups Said Musk’s X.Com Sounded Like Porn When He Raised Name 20 Years Ago
Banking and payments is back on the agenda for Elon Musk with the replacement of Twitter by X.com, a web domain he registered at least two decades ago.
Tweets by CEO Linda Yaccarino reveal audio, video, payments and banking as well as messaging as part of Xs “future state of unlimited interactivity”.
Musk’s move into payments and banking is perhaps the most striking addition but there is concern about the concentration of power and wealth it represents. It’s an idea he has spruiked intermittently over the years.
The one-time PayPal CEO had formed and operated an earlier X.com as a financial services company around 1999-2000. But the name wasn’t popular. Focus groups said the name X.com reminded them of pornography. Yet Musk remained adamant about it, says an extract from Max Chafkin’s book on Silicon Valley, The Contrarian.
PayPal owned the X.com name until Musk reportedly bought it back in 2017 for $US1.5 million.
From Max Chafkin’s book The Contrarian.
So X.com is not new; it’s Musk returning to old territory of two decades ago, to the differences on branding that helped seal his demise as PayPal CEO, in a case of payments plan nostalgia by the space-age multibillionaire. Let’s face it, Musk is a helpless X-tragic.
So could the new X become a platform for payments in 2023? Could you fire off a Tweet or now “an X” to pay your bills or a purchase from a merchant, like you do with PayPal? What about other financial services? Will financial services be at the heart of messages and chats on Musk’s platform – a Musk dream?
Musk discussed his concept around offering financial services when he held his first staff meeting as Twitter CEO. The Verge obtained a recording of what he said. It may not totally align with his ideas now, but it’s an indication of his thinking.
At the meeting he floated a “high-yield money market account”, along with debit cards, cheques and possibly even loans.
“I think there’s this transformative opportunity in payments,” Musk said in the recording.
“And payments really are just the exchange of information. From an information standpoint, not a huge difference between, say, just sending a direct message and sending a payment. They are basically the same thing,” he said in the recording obtained by The Verge.
“In principle, you can use a direct messaging stack for payments. And so that’s definitely a direction we’re going to go in, enabling people on Twitter to be able to send money anywhere in the world instantly and in real time. We just want to make it as useful as possible.”
Any move into payments could be a long process, given the approvals he would need in different jurisdictions. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter had filed paperwork on it with the US Treasury in November 2022, a month after he became CEO.
Payments could be a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction proposition with Australia down the list of priorities. We’ll have to see.
Musk recently again increased his potential revenue haul in Australia in the communications industry, with SpaceX signing deals with Telstra and Optus to augment their terrestrial networks with Starlink low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.