Elon Musk just changed Twitter's name to 'X.' His old text messages hint at what his vision for an 'everything app' might look like.

Elon Musk just changed Twitter's name to 'X.' His old text messages hint at what his vision for an 'everything app' might look like.
Patrick Pleul/Getty Images; Twitter; Vicky Leta/Insider
  • Elon Musk rebranded Twitter as "X" after hinting about plans for an "everything app" for months.
  • Musk has discussed his plans for a WeChat-like app publicly and in private texts over the years.

Since Elon Musk bought Twitter last year, his master plan for creating an "everything app" has begun to take shape.

On Sunday, the billionaire took a major step toward turning the social media company into a WeChat-like app after he announced he was rebranding Twitter into "X" — a name he has used to identify his plans for the "everything app."

"Soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds," Musk tweeted.

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That same night the company appeared to unveil its new X logo by projecting it on the exterior of its headquarters. Musk later said that posts on the social media site would no longer be called "tweets" and would be called "x's" instead.

But this is far from the first time Musk has talked about "X," and a number of his past text messages that were made public as part of a lawsuit could further hint at his vision for the app.


The history of 'X'

Earlier this month, Musk announced he was forming a company called X.ai to rival OpenAI. The venture appears to include some Twitter employees.

And earlier this year, the billionaire cryptically hinted at his plans when he simply tweeted "X" in April. While Musk did not elaborate on the tweet, it came after it was reportedly revealed Twitter had merged into a shell company called X Corp. Bloomberg reported that Twitter had been absorbed into X Corp, citing a document from April 4 that was submitted as an exhibit in a lawsuit against Twitter and its cofounder Jack Dorsey.

The publication reported that the billionaire had created a "trio of holding companies in Delaware with a variation of the name 'X Holdings''' when he first offered to buy the company last year.

Elon Musk just changed Twitter's name to 'X.' His old text messages hint at what his vision for an 'everything app' might look like.
Peter Thiel, left, and Elon Musk, right, hold VISA credit cards branded with the X.com company logo on October 20, 2000.Paul Sakuma/AP

Ultimately, the history of Musk's relationship with the word "X" goes back to his first startup, Zip2, which later morphed into PayPal.

On Sunday, Walter Isaacson — who is writing a biography on the Tesla CEOsaid on X, formerly Twitter, that Musk had wanted the startup to be named X.com after Zip2 merged with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin's company. Isaacson said that Musk told him before he'd event taken over Twitter that he planned to rebrand it as X.com and "try to make it a platform that would fulfill his original vision from 1999."


What 'X' means for Twitter

The rebranding points to Musk's larger plans for the social media company.

For the billionaire, the social media site represents the first step toward his vision for a new kind of social media platform that most in the US haven't experienced before. He's called it "X" in the past.

In October, the Tesla CEO said the acquisition of Twitter will act as "an accelerant" to creating X — jump-starting the process by three to five years.

Musk has been talking about building X for about a year. Last August, when a Twitter user asked him whether he had considered creating his own social platform, he replied, "X.com" — a web domain he bought over five years ago. At Tesla's annual shareholder meeting that same month, Musk said he had "a pretty grand vision" for X as "something that would be very useful to the world."

While Musk hasn't fully clarified whether he plans to turn Twitter into X or use it to build an entirely new platform, the billionaire has dropped several hints regarding his plans to shake up the world of social media.


Here's what he's said publicly — and privately — about the idea.

A new super-app

X wouldn't be the first app trying to do a bit of everything. In fact, Musk indicated in May of 2022 that he might look for inspiration from Tencent's WeChat, a Chinese social media juggernaut that's one of the largest super-apps in the world.

WeChat acts as an all-encompassing service that includes messaging and video chatting, video games, photo sharing, ride services, food delivery, banking, and shopping.

Elon Musk just changed Twitter's name to 'X.' His old text messages hint at what his vision for an 'everything app' might look like.
In this photo illustration, the WeChat app is displayed in the App Store on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC.Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

"If you're in China, you kind of live on WeChat," he said. "It does everything — sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of things, and all rolled into one, with a great interface. It's really an excellent app, and we don't have anything like that outside of China."

At his first town hall with Twitter staff last year, the billionaire said there's a "real opportunity" to create a similar app outside of China.


"I think if we could achieve that, or even close to that with Twitter, it would be an immense success," he said.

Matt Navarra, a top social media consultant, told Insider last year that it wouldn't make sense to gut Twitter and turn it into a super-app, but it could become a sort of "mini-app" within Musk's larger platform.

Elon Musk just changed Twitter's name to 'X.' His old text messages hint at what his vision for an 'everything app' might look like.
Sha Zhu, of Washington, shows the app WeChat on her phone, which she uses to keep in touch with family and friends in the U.S. and China, Tuesday Aug. 18, 2020, in Washington.AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Private texts about a blockchain-based platform

Musk has also discussed creating a social media platform built on a blockchain. The billionaire is known for his love of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Dogecoin.

Last April, the billionaire privately outlined his idea for a "Doge" social media platform in texts to his younger brother, Kimbal Musk. The messages were made public as part of Musk's court battle with Twitter.

"I have an idea for a blockchain social media system that does both payments and short text messages/links like Twitter," Musk texted. "You have to pay a tiny amount to register your message on the chain, which will cut out the vest majority of spam and bots."


Musk said the site would have a "massive real-time database" that would keep permanent copies of messages and followers, and a "Twitter-like app on your phone" that can access the database in the cloud.

In February, the Financial Times reported that the billionaire plans to add crypto functionality to Twitter after the site is approved for payments. The social media company has applied for a series of licenses to allow the platform to process payments, a major feature of superapps like WeChat, per the FT.

A subscription model

Musk's idea for a blockchain-based platform feeds into some of his discussions around Twitter's revenue model.

The billionaire has repeatedly expressed his distaste for ads, but advertising makes up the vast majority of Twitter's revenue. In a since-deleted tweet from last April, Musk said the company should exist without ads.

Elon Musk just changed Twitter's name to 'X.' His old text messages hint at what his vision for an 'everything app' might look like.
Click the Subscribe button at the bottom to sign up for Twitter Blue.Will Fischer

Instead, Musk has talked about making money from the social media site via alternative methods, including charging some users to be on the site. Shortly after buying Twitter, Musk began charging users for the app's blue check mark.


The billionaire has also noted the app could help foster payments directly to users. The company launched a "Tips" feature in 2021 that includes an option to pay users with Bitcoin.

"It's important for content creators to have a revenue share," Musk said at a May event for the "All-In" podcast.

Earlier this month, Twitter rolled out ad revenue sharing to some users who qualified, with some accounts reporting that they received as much as $100,000 from the feature.