Elon Musk’s Twitter considered selling usernames to boost revenue

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Elon Musk’s Twitter considered selling usernames to boost revenue
Credit: © Reuters.

By Michael Elkins

According to a New York Times report, citing people familiar with the matter, social media platform Twitter considered selling usernames to generate new revenue. Twitter employees have held conversations about selling some usernames for the service since at least December, the people said. Some engineers have suggested holding online auctions where users can bid on usernames.

It remains unclear on if the project will move forward and if the plan affects all usernames or only a subset. However, CEO Elon Musk said last month that he wanted to start eliminating inactive accounts on Twitter and free up 1.5 billion usernames. His plan ignited concerns among some who feared the company would delete the accounts of people who had died and whose Twitter pages were used to memorialize them.

Unique usernames can be lucrative, with some people and brands willing to pay thousands of dollars for them. Black markets have sprung up where people can buy usernames that are desired because they feature a short word or a number. However, Twitter’s rules forbid the buying and selling of handles, as the trade has previously attracted hackers. In 2020, a 17-year-old in Florida was arrested after hacking Twitter to obtain usernames to sell, compromising the accounts of Musk and celebrities.

Twitter has seen a lot of changes since Musk purchased the platform back in October. With a price tag of $44B, the multi-billionaire CEO has been under a lot of pressure to make the purchase a success. Since taking over the company, Musk has slashed expenses, ordered layoffs, and stopped vendor payments. At the same time, he has tried to find new paths to bring in money as Twitter has experienced a sharp downturn in ad revenue.

This week, Musk emailed Twitter employees saying he was available for meetings after finishing “most of my Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) work.” He reminded them that he must approve all product design and engineering changes “no matter how small,” according to a copy of the note, which was seen by The New York Times.

“We are going to agonize until we achieve as close to the perfect product as possible,” Mr. Musk wrote.

Along with Twitter, Elon Musk is also the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company.

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