X and Musk and rock ‘n’ roll
- Elon Musk X Twitter rebrand clearly didn’t have much breadth of planning
- That’s despite his long-term obsession with the idea of the X app.
- X Japan are a band that have sold over 30 million records during their career.
Elon Musk’s X app might finally be realized. His latest changes at Twitter, which he acquired on April 14 for $44 billion, add up to a complete rebrand. With a new logo and name, Musk is attempting to make ‘X’ a thing – this is the second time he’s tried to rename a well-known tech company.
In fact, Musk’s defenestration from PayPal was because he thought that “can you X me for that” had a better ring to it than the app’s original slogan.
The bird logo synonymous with Twitter has been scrapped in favor of a Unicode X, and each location with a dedicated Twitter page has been updated to an ‘X’ followed by the name of the country of the location.
Japanese Twitter users are noting that the decision to replace the iconic Twitter brand name with the letter "X" could turn Twitter Japan into "X Japan." It's a name that has been used for decades by one of Japan's most famous rock bands. pic.twitter.com/BOgvvLdZkd
— Jeffrey J. Hall 🇯🇵🇺🇸 (@mrjeffu) July 24, 2023
The transition isn’t going to be smooth in Japan, where the brand name has already been trademarked by J-rock band, X Japan.
The four-piece, founded by members Toshi and Yoshiki in 1982, have recorded together on and off for decades, maintaining a streak as one of the highest-selling bands in the country. Five years after their last live show, and eight since the last single the band released, a new track has dropped.
Titled ‘Angel,’ the track is composer Yoshiko’s way of showing fans he’s still working on X Japan. “I’ve been fighting internally inside my heart to create the best art through X Japan’s filter,” he said.
“I wanted to add an aggressive side to this beautiful melody,” he continued. “Lyrically, I wanted to write something about how people in this world are suffering. People are hurting, including myself. I wanted to emphasise that you will also be loved. I’m saying, ‘Try to love, don’t give up. Don’t die.’ That’s also a message to myself.”
Given the timing of the band’s return, the message might be assumed to be “back off our band name – it’s trademarked!”
Yoshiko insists that he respects Musk and wants fans to seek a positive solution, not fight over the issue.
It’s unclear whether the trademark is registered outside of Japan, and it might be possible for the platform to call itself ‘X’ within the country.
X.com and Elon Musk’s obsession with losing money
The history of Elon Musk and X is complex and not especially salutory. In 1999, Musk started the business X.com for electronic payments, checking accounts, stock trades and mutual funds – which sounds a lot like what he’s trying to transform Twitter into. X was losing money though, and merged with another money-losing company, Confinity.
Confinity had developed PayPal and, when he became CEO of the merged companies, Musk pushed to change the branding to X, despite it surveying negatively with customers. David Sacks, who was at the company from the Confinity side, was definitively against the rebrand.
What’s interesting about all this, besides Musk’s apparent inability to learn from past mistakes, is that Sacks is once again involved in the rebrand. After making the right call on PayPal, why hasn’t he stepped in again?
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It could be the success of China’s WeChat, the super app that essentially pulls Twitter, Instagram, Slack, Venmo and banking apps into one. Musk’s ambition for X was always something like that, and now, maybe, the climate is right.
Twitter as we knew it is almost certainly gone forever and whatever takes its place is unlikely to live up to the heyday of the app. It definitely won’t be X Japan, which works as a rock band – but not as a social media platform.
29 September 2023
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