Musk reaffirms plans for subscription model after Twitter acquisition

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has reiterated that he plans to rely more heavily on a subscription model for the online service following a takeover of Twitter. "Twitter will always be free for casual users, but may cost a little for commercial/government users," he tweeted on Wednesday night.

The head of electric car maker Tesla wants to take over Twitter and accuses the short news service of restricting freedom of speech on the platform too much. Musk has reached an agreement with Twitter's board of directors on a deal worth around 44 billion US dollars, but is dependent on enough shareholders ceding their shares to him. Twitter and Musk want to complete the takeover by the end of the year.

Subscription models put to the test

Twitter currently earns its money almost exclusively from advertising, mainly in the form of tweets that companies can add to users' news streams for money. Musk had already written before the start of his takeover attack that he thought subscription models for services like Twitter were better and that the focus was wrong because it gave large corporations too much power.

There is always tension between advertisers and online platforms, for example when extreme posts appear there next to which they do not want to see their products placed.

Twitter is already experimenting with subscription business models in its Blue offering, which is available in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among other things, Twitter Blue customers can modify finished tweets for up to 30 seconds. Tweet series are also displayed in a more readable way, and there is the option of organizing saved tweets in folders.

The subscription costs $2.99 per month in the US. There were also hints that Twitter might charge for its Tweetdeck software, which lets you use the service more comfortably and without ads.

In the online business, services that are free of charge for users, such as Facebook and Google, which make their business from advertising based on user information, have so far clearly prevailed over subscription models. For example, the fee-based Twitter alternative App.net failed years ago.

Deal worth billions

Musk wants to take Twitter off the stock exchange after the takeover. He argued that this is the only way the service can fully develop its potential as a platform for free speech. The Wall Street Journal According to the newspaper, he advertised to potential investors that Twitter could return to the stock market in a few years. Musk had mentioned a period of three years, the newspaper wrote on Tuesday, citing informed persons.

Musk has presented financing commitments of $46.5 billion for the deal. Of that, $25.5 billion is in loans, some of which will be secured by his Tesla shares. He plans to raise up to $21 billion himself. Musk is trying to attract partners such as financial investors for this, according to media reports. They could cash in later if Twitter were to go public again.

One of the big questions surrounding Musk's promise of free speech is whether former President Donald Trump could return to the platform. He was banned after expressing sympathy for his supporters who stormed the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. In the weeks leading up to that, Trump had fueled sentiment with baseless claims that an election victory against Joe Biden was stolen from him by fraud.

Trump said he does not want to return to Twitter, even if he were allowed to. But his presence on the platform, where he once had more than 80 million followers, could be important for a possible candidacy in the 2024 presidential election. (SDA)

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