Elon Musk has been talking about “X” ever since he first acquired Twitter last year. He said at the time that “buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.” Now, Twitter is officially dead, and Musk’s dream of X has risen to take its place.
Musk has been intent on bringing Twitter out of its microblogging era for months, rolling out a variety of updates and changes in an effort to position X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as a competitor to Youtube, LinkedIn, cable news and a host of other companies.
But the idea of “X” is nothing new for Musk. It’s been floating around in his head for more than two decades, though his last push for X.com didn’t end up going his way.
In the early 1990s, Musk interned at Scotiabank, Canada’s third-largest bank. Musk, who was 19 at the time, is quoted in The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley as saying his time at the bank taught him “how lame banks are.” The 19-year-old entrepreneur was eager to attempt to disrupt the banking industry, and thus, X.com — for the first time — was born.
Musk’s idea for X.com, according to biographer Walter Isaacson, was to create an “everything-store for all financial needs: banking, digital purchases, checking, credit cards, investments, and loans.”
Anyone not stupid can see Twitter is falling to pieces and is likely to financially crash
Meanwhile, @elonmusk is claiming Twitter will be half the world financial system.
He’s either a pathological liar or entirely divorced from reality. Pick one.
— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) July 24, 2023
After forcing his employees to work incredibly long hours, X.com launched Thanksgiving weekend of 1999. The startup was driven to some early days of success in part due to a feature that enabled users to send money via email.
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X.com eventually merged with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin’s Confinity in 2000. In 2001, X died, and PayPal was born instead, though Musk continued to push hard for his preferred name choice.
“If you want to just be a niche payment system, PayPal is better,” Musk said. “But if you want to take over the world’s financial system, then X is the better name.”
Musk repurchased the X.com domain name from PayPal in 2017.
Thanks PayPal for allowing me to buy back https://t.co/bOUOejO16Y! No plans right now, but it has great sentimental value to me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2017
And Musk, according to Isaacson, has been planning to rebrand Twitter to X in a bid to fulfill his dream from the ’90s since before he took over the company.
“I am very excited about finally implementing X.com as it should have been done, using Twitter as an accelerant!” Musk texted Isaacson at 3:30 a.m. one day. And just like it was in the ’90s, Musk’s version of the everything app that he is driving Twitter toward, according to Isaacson, is a combination social media network and financial platform.