SpaceX, Twitter and electric car maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks on as he speaks during his visit at the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, on June 16, 2023. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP) (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)
Alain Jocard | Afp | Getty Images
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who is also CTO and executive chairman of Twitter, said early Saturday morning that cash flow remains negative at the social media company because of a nearly 50% drop in advertising revenue coupled with “heavy debt.”
“Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else,” Musk wrote in response to a tweet.
Musk took over Twitter in October of last year in a deal valued at around $44 billion, including about $13 billion in debt. He sold billions of dollars worth of his Tesla shares in part to finance that deal.
By January, hundreds of advertisers had reduced or halted their ad spending on Twitter in response to Musk making steep staff cuts at the company, and implementing changes to the platform, especially restoring previously banned accounts and changing its approach to content moderation.
In April, Musk told a BBC reporter that “almost all” advertisers had resumed buying ads on Twitter. He also claimed at that time that the company was “roughly breakeven,” and expected to become cash flow positive within the next quarter.
His statement about Twitter’s cash flow problems today comes a little over one month since Linda Yaccarino, who previously ran global advertising for Comcast’s NBCUniversal, took on the role of Twitter CEO. NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.
Yaccarino’s appointment inspired hope among media industry insiders that Twitter would address immediate challenges to its ad business.
In recent days, Twitter began doling out a share of its ad revenue to select content creators on its platform. Musk’s remarks were made in response to followers who wanted to know why that revenue-sharing program was so limited in scope.
A number of widely followed accounts on Twitter posted that they were dismayed they did not qualify to earn income from the program yet. As The Verge previously reported, the revenue-sharing program was available only to users who paid for a Twitter Blue verified subscription, and amounts paid were “driven by ads placed in the replies to tweets.”
Influencer Andrew Tate — who espouses misogynistic views online, and faces a trial on charges of rape, human trafficking and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women in Romania — posted that Twitter paid him more than $20,000. Tate has sued the accusers who made those charges.
Several right-wing influencers also posted about receiving Twitter payments, along with fans and promoters of Tesla stock and products, including Omar Qazi (who uses the handle “@WholeMarsBlog” on Twitter) and Sawyer Merritt, who each posted about netting more than $5,000.
Mainstream influencers who shared details about their Twitter income included Brian and Ed Krassenstein, Mr. Beast and the account @interneth0f (which stands for Internet Hall of Fame). The Internet Hall of Fame posts screenshots of other people’s popular posts from social media and re-circulates them.
It’s not clear how much Twitter paid creators in total in this first round of payments. Twitter sent an automated reply with a crude symbol in response to CNBC’s request for comment on Saturday. The parent company of Twitter, X Corp., is facing myriad lawsuits from former employees and vendors over non-payment of bills and severance.