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Twitter Announces Major Staffing Changes as Musk Deal Continues to Take Shape

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Twitter Announces Major Staffing Changes as Musk Deal Continues to Take Shape

The changes keep coming at Twitter HQ.

Today, Twitter CEO (for now) Parag Agrawal has announced that key leaders Kayvon Beykpour and revenue products chief Bruce Falck will be leaving the company effective immediately.

Beykpour is the more publicly visible of the two. Originally coming across as part of Twitter’s acquisition of Periscope in 2015, Beykpour has often represented the company in public forums and appearances, while he’s also been a key driver of several strategic product shifts. Falck meanwhile has been the driving force behind many of Twitter’s ad products and tools, and both represent significant losses for the platform.

How that impacts Twitter overall is impossible to measure, but with the added loss of Jack Dorsey, along with several other long-term key voices, it’s definitely a time of significant, arguably fundamental change at the platform – and that’s before we see the impact of Musk stepping in.

Agrawal, who himself will soon be replaced by Elon as part of Musk’s Twitter takeover deal, announced the decisions via an all-staff email, in which he also outlined a hiring freeze and various other cost-cutting measures.

As per Agrawal:

At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the decision was made to invest aggressively to deliver big growth in audience and revenue, and as a company we did not hit intermediate milestones that enable confidence in these goals. More recently, the global macroeconomic environment has become less favorable, the war in Ukraine has impacted our results, and may continue to do so […] In order to responsibly manage the organization as we sharpen our roadmaps and our work, we need to continue to be intentional about our teams, hiring and costs.

So while Agrawal is likely on the way out too, he’s still dedicated to reducing costs ahead of the pending takeover – though some have questioned why Agrawal felt the need to take out these key leaders now, given that he too will soon be moving on from the company.

Probably.

There are still some questions as to whether the Musk deal will ultimately go through, with some reports suggesting that Musk’s facing some further complications, which could de-rail his Twitter takeover plan.

As reported by CNBC:

Though Twitter’s board approved [Musk’s] purchase, it could still take months for the deal to close, and there’s no guarantee that it will […] The Information reported that the Federal Trade Commission is probing the timing of Musk’s disclosure. Bloomberg later said the FTC is separately reviewing the acquisition itself, though many experts don’t expect the deal to raise antitrust concerns.

So while the deal is still very likely to happen, there are some lingering concerns, while Tesla shareholders also have reservations about Musk taking out a loan that would be tied to his Tesla shares. Musk is now also looking to avoid that complication through alternate financing, which could provide some assurance.

Worth noting, too, that Twitter shares have now fallen to less than $46 as a result of these complications, which is well below Elon Musk’s purchase price of $54.20.

Essentially, there are still a lot of moving parts, and while the expectation is that Musk will indeed become the owner and CEO of the social media app eventually, the timing and particulars of the deal are still in flux, which could mean ongoing uncertainty for Twitter, which is already effectively on-hold.

But that’s not stopping Agrawal from cutting costs, and making moves with the future of the company in mind. Despite him likely not being part of it – but then again, if it all falls through, Agrawal will be left to pick up the pieces, and get Twitter back on track, without the support of a multi-billionaire.

In this respect, Agrawal’s moves make sense, though perceptually, you can see how some will be questioning the decision to push out key leaders at this stage.

But again, the bottom line here is that Twitter is changing. No matter what happens, no matter who ends up in charge, several of the key people who underlined the platform’s ethos and approach are now moving on, which will have major implications in the long term.

Elon may look to transform the app into something entirely new anyway, but now, there’s no going back, regardless of what happens next.

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The Most Visited Websites in the World – 2023 Edition [Infographic]

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The Most Visited Websites in the World - 2023 Edition [Infographic]

Google remains the most-visited website in the world, while Facebook is still the most frequented social platform, based on web traffic. Well, actually, YouTube is, but YouTube’s only a partial social app, right?

The findings are displayed in this new visualization from Visual Capitalist, which uses SimilarWeb data to show the most visited websites in bubble chart format, highlighting the variance in traffic.

As you can see, following Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the next most visited social platforms, which is likely in line with what most would expect – though the low numbers for TikTok probably stand out, given its dominance of modern media zeitgeist.

But there is a reason for that – this data is based on website visits, not app usage, so platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, which are primarily focused on the in-app experience, won’t fare as well in this particular overview.

In that sense, it’s interesting to see which social platforms are engaging audiences via their desktop offerings.

You can check out the full overview below, and you can read Visual Capitalist’s full explainer here.

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Branding and rebranding is getting more fun, here we look at some of cheekiest brands that have caught our eye – for the right and wrong reasons.



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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

Over the past year, Google has repeatedly noted that a China-based group has been looking to use YouTube, in particular, to influence western audiences, by building various channels in the app, then seeding them with pro-China content.

There’s limited info available on the full origins or intentions of the group, but today, Google has published a new overview of its ongoing efforts to combat the initiative, called DRAGONBRIDGE.

As explained by Google:

In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime.

As you can see in this chart, DRAGONBRIDGE is by far the most prolific source of coordinated information operations that Google has detected over the past year, while Google also notes that it’s been able to disrupt most of the project’s attempted influence, by snuffing out its content before it gets seen.

Dragonbridge

Worth noting the scale too – as Google notes, DRAGONBRIDGE has created more than 100,000 accounts, which includes tens of thousands of YouTube channels. Not individual videos, entire channels in the app, which is a huge amount of work, and content, that this group is producing.

That can’t be cheap, or easy to keep running. So they must be doing it for a reason.

The broader implication, which has been noted by various other publications and analysts, is that DRAGONBRIDGE is potentially being supported by the Chinese Government, as part of a broader effort to influence foreign policy approaches via social media apps. 

Which, at this kind of scale, is a concern, while DRAGONBRIDGE has also targeted Facebook and Twitter as well, at different times, and it could be that their efforts on those platforms are also reaching similar activity levels, and may not have been detected as yet.

Which then also relates to TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that now has massive influence over younger audiences in western nations. If programs like this are already in effect, it stands to reason that TikTok is also likely a key candidate for boosting the same, which remains a key concern among regulators and officials in many nations.

The US Government is reportedly weighing a full TikTok ban, and if that happens, you can bet that many other nations will follow suit. Many government organizations are also banning TikTok on official devices, based on advice from security experts, and with programs like DRAGONBRIDGE also running, it does seem like Chinese-based groups are actively operating influence and manipulation programs in foreign nations.

Which seems like a significant issue, and while Google is seemingly catching most of these channels before they have an impact, it also seems likely that this is only one element of a larger push.

Hopefully, through collective action, the impact of such can be limited – but for TikTok, which still reports to Chinese ownership, it’s another element that could raise further questions and scrutiny.

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