Last Updated on August 6, 2023
Elon Musk put the little Twitter bird on the endangered species list, announcing he plans to retire the logo and the Twitter brand.
Elon Musk really likes the letter X. He apparently likes it enough to replace the familiar Twitter brand with it. Of course, he’s the first to admit that he has an affinity for the 24th letter of our alphabet:
Back in April, in a seemingly-meaningless tweet, he posted just the single letter.
Was that an early hint? Perhaps. The following month, when he named Linda Yaccarino as the company’s new CEO, he said this:
I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!Elon Musk on Twitter
Most of us paid no attention to the “X/Twitter” mention if we noticed it at all. The focus of the announcement was the hire. The person he chose was the real focus of the news. But maybe we should have noticed the X.
Over the weekend, Musk said he intended to change the logo for Twitter from the bird to X.
“And soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds,” Musk wrote on his account, the Associated Press reported.
Why the X?
That takes us back to what appears to be an obsession with the letter. NPR mentions a book by Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. As Vance tells it, Musk’s love affair with the X dates back to X.com, which would later become PayPal.
The letter X, or an X mark in general, can mean many different things. In Roman numerals, it can serve as the number 10. In math, it is a symbol to indicate multiplication.
It can show a negative. (Just think of a strike in the game of Family Feud.)
You can use an X to select something on a ballot, a test or a ballot.
On maps, an X can mark an important location, as in “X marks the spot.”
In the world of sports, it can signify a strike in baseball or a strike in bowling. (I imagine it’s probably used elsewhere in sports, but that’s the extent of my sporting knowledge with respect to the letter.)
The letter also carries a stigma of pornography back when adult films carried an X rating from the Motion Picture Association. The MPA replaced that rating in 1990 with NC-17.
The letter can also represent perseverance and preservation.
In Musk’s case, no one knows for sure why he likes the X so much.
But the X looks to be coming for the Twitter bird soon
In addition to announcing the pending rebranding of Twitter and the phasing out of the birds, Musk announced the pending change would be much sooner than later.
Minutes after midnight on Sunday morning, Musk said if a “good enough X logo” gets posted Sunday night, Twitter would make it go live worldwide on Monday.
As of Monday morning, the bird is still there, but we do see the new logo:
If Musk hadn’t set a precedent with his admiration for the letter, I could see him pulling a Prince instead. Remember Prince, who in 1993, during a contractural dispute, changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol? He became known as “the artist formally known as Prince,” which was ironic, since he was trying to not use “Prince.” When the contract dispute was over, he returned to Prince.
I’m a little surprised Musk hasn’t tried to come up with some symbol like that. Only he would know its name and for everyone else, it’d be a guess. (Or more likely, it would only be given to those who choose to subscribe!)
Musk wants to transform Twitter into an “everything app.” I don’t know that X says “everything” to me.