The owner of Twitter 2.0 has just launched a purge on the platform, by removing the checkmarks from personalities who refuse to pay.
This is the fight of the titans.
The headline pits Mark Cuban against Elon Musk, two tech entrepreneurs and billionaires.
The former is one of the most revered and admired investors and personalities. He is the big star of the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” a show that features entrepreneurs looking for investors to expand their businesses.
He is also the owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise.
The latter needs no introductions. He has become the most influential and powerful CEO in recent months. His name has almost become synonymous to innovation. Elon Musk stands for electric vehicles through Tesla TSLA, the electric vehicle manufacturer of which he is the co-founder and CEO. Musk also stands for new space conquest through SpaceX, the company he founded.
He has also become, in recent months, the most critical voice of artificial intelligence (AI), for which he calls to be regulated.
Musk and Cuban are household names.
But since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, considered the town square of our time, the two billionaires seem to be in a constant clash. Musk decided to revamp Twitter in order to find new revenue streams. One of his key actions was to incorporate the check mark, which verifies the identity behind an account, into Blue, the platform’s subscription service. Blue costs $7.99 per month for individuals and $1,000 for organizations.
Prior to Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the check mark was free and was an honor given to celebrities, journalists, influencers, politicians and well-known organizations who used it for promotion. The advantage was that the public could trust messages posted by accounts with a check mark. By making it a paid feature, Musk decided that everyone had to pay or lose it.
On Apr. 20, after giving several months to everyone to comply with the new policy, Musk began to remove the blue badge from those who had not yet paid their subscription. This action provoked mockery, jokes and strong criticism from the celebrities impacted. Musk retaliated by announcing, ironically, that he was setting up a fund to help celebrities unable to pay.
“We’ve started a ‘save-a-celebrity fund’ to pay their $8. We take this matter very seriously,” the billionaire posted on Apr. 21.
“LOL! Actually I think this could be a solution, even though I’m not sure if you are serious,” journalist Ed Krassenstein commented.
“🤣🤣 It’s a real thing,” Musk replied, with two laughing emoji.
The techno king sticks to his decision and believes that it’s a matter of egalitarianism. Musk, who enjoys cultivating a direct connection with his millions of fans, says celebrities should not get special treatment.
“Everyone pays the same price for a Tesla, including me. Same goes for new Twitter,” Musk argued.
For Cuban, Musk did a very bad job in making celebrities pay for the check mark. He even believes that his billionaire and entrepreneur peer made a “big mistake” and goes so far as to equate this error to the Coca-Cola marketing disaster of April 1985, when the producer of soft drinks took one of the greatest risks in its history by announcing a change in the formula of its most popular soft drink.
Coca-Cola had introduced a reformulated Coca-Cola called “New Coke.” It was the first time in 99 years that the company, which sought to boost the Coca-Cola brand, changed its formula. The reaction of American consumers was very strong. It was a real firestorm that lasted 79 days. Coca-Cola was forced to return to the original formula or classic Coca-Cola in July 1985.
“There were 100 ways @elonmusk could have asked legacy checks for $100. Egalitarianism was the worst of all of them,” Cuban blasted out on Apr. 21. “It’s Diet Coke level.”
Then he corrected himself: “*New Coke lol.”
Cuban went even further and said Musk’s approach is a “huge mistake,” because it suggests that the tech mogul is in control of the likeness of the celebrities who accept to pay to keep their blue check mark.
“This is why the approach to legacy checks is a huge mistake. You are telling the biggest celebs they are not in charge of their likeness, @elonmusk is. This also applies to anyone that makes a living off their personal brand. As @elonmusk goes, so goes their brand,” Cuban lambasted.
For him there were several ways to get celebrities to pay, but it would have required more subtleties. He then gave examples of how Musk could have gone about it.
“Hey Mark, we saw that there is a new season of Shark Tank starting. Can you let the producers know that we have a special $1k program where we do the same IP verification and protection and will also include $10k of promoted tweets for the show. Please have them DM me here,” Musk could have written according to Cuban.
‘Best Game in Town’
Another example of what Musk could have done according to Cuban was this: “Hey Mark, we know people try to impersonate you or mis-use your image. Our AI will monitor accounts to protect your brand. $100 per year. Sold. Saves me hassle and legal fees,” Cuban wrote.
He gave at least five ways that Musk could have gone about getting celebrities and recalcitrant companies to subscribe to Blue. However, he ended by saying that the departure of many personalities from Twitter will not cause the decline of the platform.
“That said, Twitter still is the best game in town for so many different types of communications. [Its] scale and type of interaction is unique and right now irreplaceable. If you look at Twitter on a 20 yr horizon, the past 6 [months] are just the preseason and it’s not hard to recapture what was,” Cuban concluded.
Musk has yet to respond to Cuban’s criticism. He is unlikely to respond because the Twitter owner has remained silent, at least publicly, on inquiries Cuban has made to him in recent weeks regarding Twitter.