The thing they never tell you about the end times of large corporations is how long they take to play out.
For example Kodak, one-time giant of film and film processing, whose red and yellow logo was known world wide, has been a dead man walking since it completely failed to make the transition to digital cameras. It’s long and inevitable collapse is still in progress and it has thrashed around looking for any way to avoid its destiny, including a brief flirtation with cryto mining. It still printing products and has a market for film, but that continues to shrink. Even my dentist… dental x-rays were long a revenue source for the company… has a digital x-ray system now. My dentist runs a booming practice and likes to have all the latest toys… he has a freaking laser drill… but eventually the strip mall practices will have digital x-ray systems and that market will dry up.
And then there is IBM, one time champion of corporate America who stole a march on Apple and and for a few years dominated the personal computer market. They spent the 90s trying to fight the trends their own IBM PC started, and for the last 20 years or so have jettisoned pretty much every tangible business line to focus on buzzwords. I asked ChatGPT to list out their current offerings and got IBM Cloud, Watson AI, and some very special use platforms, but when it put IBM Blockchain on the list I thought surely it was pranking me. But no, IBM Blockchain is a thing and IBM jumping on that trend cannot be a good sign, aside from confirming to me that it is something companies grab on to when looking for a cheap, short term buzzword win.
Both companies will linger and shrink and eke out an existence for decades, but their list of their former products, sold off or shut down, will only grow while their actual footprint will continue to shrink.
So the fact that Twitter hasn’t died yet, even after Elon Musk went into a data center and started shutting off random servers, is probably par for the course. I mean, Elon seems to want to speed run the destruction of the company, and publicly said Twitter’s valuation was $20 billion, or less than half of what he paid for it, but there is some inertia holding things in place.
Still, he persists and April looks like it could be another big step on his goal of immolation.
To start with, on April first, because of course on April Fools day, Twitter will remove the legacy verified user blue check marks. Going forward, only those wiling to pay the $8 a month for Twitter Blue will get that special badge.
What does that subscription get you?
I like that even a subscription won’t free you from ads. Let’s hear it for half measures!
Actual celebrities, for whom the original verification system was put in place to serve, seem unimpressed. Stephan King has pointed out on a few occasions that Twitter ought to be paying him and other celebs that draw people to the platform. William Shatner was pointing this out to Musk as well this past week. I have mentioned the unique set of circumstances that somehow let Twitter hit a critical mass of celebrities that helped make it viable. Twitter’s value is in who you can follow and interact with. Without that it isn’t a very impressive application.
Oh well, Stephan King, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson and many more won’t have a blue check mark come next week. That means that if you follow @st3ph4nking it might not be who you think it is.
That is the first hit of the one-two punch. We needed to start with that for the next hit to have its full impact. Come April 15th, if you don’t have that blue checkmark the algorithm won’t promote you so only those who follow you will see your Tweets.
The theory here is that bots won’t pay $8 to get themselves boosted into people’s timelines.
Also, I think the voting thing is hilarious because I am sure every time he runs a poll and it doesn’t come out the way he wants he assumes it was bots. If you agree with him you’re human, if you disagree you must be a bot.
And he is really obsessed with the bots… as he was during the purchase fiasco where he tried to make bots a reason to get out of his offer despite the fact that he had waved that off explicitly as a reason to do so.
This is where following a bunch of devs with live service video game experience is fun because they’ve been fighting bots for the last couple of decades and have opinions founded on experience about Musk’s plan.
To sum some of that up, it sounds like Twitter is about to learn a lot about stolen credit cards and other ways to get into subscription services where there is some benefit to be gained. And, of course, Musk outlined the benefit above, that subscribing means the algorithm will spread your message for you.
So come September 15th the For You tab on Twitter is going to be filled with people who paid $8 in order to get into your timeline and bots who defrauded Twitter in order to do so.
Oh, and the other lesson from live service games is that hacking subscribed accounts is a very popular pastime as well. It is possible that having a blue check mark will put a target marker on your account and that we’ll see more “my account was hacked when it posted that noxious opinion!” only it might actually be true on occasion going forward.
Now I know some people don’t like the For You tab in any case and wonder that anybody who frequent that location, but the algorithm has been pretty good to me over the years. My interests are pretty simple I guess and I don’t bother to engage with aholes. But now that tab is going to be hot garbage through and through.
So the upshot is that you had best find the people you want to follow on Twitter because the algorithm won’t be there to help you soon.
By complete co-incidence, I also posted about Twitter today. Well, sort of. It’s ironic that it’s taken all the negative publicity surrounding Musk’s acquisition of the company to bring my own reasons for not using the service into focus. I am now in the odd position of almost wishing I’d joined in while it was still worth it. I can see the point now in a way I never really could before.
Still, it’s going to be interesting to watch the fall from the outside.
There are two things I would pay a subscription for on social media. A full chronological feed of posts/updates from friends / following etc, and no ads. It is interesting how Social Media companies do not seem to want to give you either.
For the record, I’ve said for a year now that what will keep IBM afloat is Red Hat. I try to forget that IBM owns Red Hat, but then when I see the support for version patching, I say “Oh yeah. This is the sort of crap that IBM would pull.”
It was hard at first, but 99% leaving Twitter (if a friend DMs me I’ll go read those) was overall a positive thing for me. Let it all burn, says I!
A funny thing about IBM. In 2022, while the Nasdaq was down 33%, S&P 500 down 19%, and Dow down 8%, IBM stock was up 6% for the year.
IBM did not know what to do with Watson. Now more than 10 years later ChatGPT doing what Watson could do much better and making a lot of money. Unknown if Microsoft will actually benefit from all the money they poring into ChatGPT but IBM could have made that money instead with the right focus.
@PCRedbeard – I always forget about the Red Hat purchase… and I guess ChatGPT did too. That was going to be the big move that saved IBM because the Red Hat culture was going to take over and revive the company.
Here is the thing; IBM corporate culture is so slow, conservative, and hide bound that nothing will break it over time. I have a friend who went to work at a former IBM group that Hitachi bought and it was all meetings all the time with way too many people in the room trying to come to a unanimous consensus on every little detail. Literally somebody from sales would have opinions on surface mount resistor procurement that would take days to get past. She left after a couple of months because they would meet all day then go home for dinner, then resume the meeting for a couple more hours in the evening.
So, in the end, Red Hat will just be subsumed into that morass and probably sold off once IBM screws it up so much that people start actively moving off of RHEL because IBM can’t live up to their support and maintenance agreements because that has been their plan for the last 25 years, to promise the world then hope nobody calls them and to not answer the phone if they do call.