Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Elon Musk can’t make an American WeChat

By Jeremiah Johnson

31 Jul 2023 · 7 min read

informed Summary

  1. Elon Musk's vision for Twitter, now rebranded as "X", is to create an "everything app" similar to China's WeChat, encompassing audio, video, messaging, payments, and banking. Musk has long been interested in creating a comprehensive platform, as evidenced by his original online bank X.com, which aimed to handle all financial transactions.

Last week, Elon Musk rebranded Twitter as “X.” New CEO Linda Yaccarino tweeted that X would be “centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking,” a step toward Musk’s vision of creating the “everything app” for the Western world. Musk has been focused on this vision for Twitter since before he even bought it, repeatedly praising the Chinese app WeChat in a June 2022 town hall at Twitter. WeChat is known for doing virtually anything an app can do—messaging, audio/video, meetings, translation, social networking, shopping, payments, ride sharing, food delivery, and more. It’s an indispensable app in China, and Musk wants to build X into that app in the United States.

Musk has been laser-focused on his vision of the everything app for longer than most realize. He’s also long been obsessed with the letter X—he named his original online bank X.com, founded SpaceX, and even named his son “X Æ A-12.” His X-ray vision, if you’ll forgive the pun, dates back to his founding of the original X.com. Musk described that firm, which would eventually merge with Confinity to form PayPal, as a “global financial nexus” that could handle bank accounts, mortgages, credit, insurance, stocks—anything and everything financial.

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