Threads is a product developed internally by Meta. It has attracted as many as 100 million users in just 5 days around the world, and most of them are “migrated” from Twitter—they A large part of the reason for “moving” is out of dislike for Musk.
Especially in early July, Twitter began to limit the number of tweets that free users can read per day, semi-mandatoryly requiring users to “pay to browse”. The move caused an uproar on the Internet. Three days later, Zuckerberg threw out the long-awaited Threads.
Although from a functional point of view, Threads can’t talk about any innovations, it is basically a pixel-level reproduction of Twitter-and in Silicon Valley, plagiarism has never been very decent. But after all, “the world has suffered from Twitter for a long time”, and Musk’s reputation among the public is no longer the entrepreneurial hero who wanted to subvert the car kingdom and tried to land on Mars.
Especially in the past month or so, Musk and Zuckerberg’s “primary school” level of scolding has made the crowd’s filter of entrepreneurial stars disappear.
These two tycoons, who have a combined wealth of more than 380 billion U.S. dollars, frequently “run away” on the Internet, from dating “octagonal cages” to greeting each other’s organs. In the eyes of industry insiders, in addition to the boring bickering, the scolding battle between the two also reflects a certain Silicon Valley dilemma: the richest people also have to go to the market in person for the sake of traffic, and they will not hesitate to lose the bottom line to “bring goods” for the product. The focus of their respective business failures this year.
However, in the social product circle, after all, it has been a long time since such an exciting product appeared-not to mention the narrative of “overturning the old world” is always bought by many people. As soon as Threads went online, it unexpectedly cut off a large part of Twitter’s business, and this may be the beginning of the next real war.
For the two battle-hardened super-rich, the “decentness” of their competitive stance is the least important thing.
Musk who “betrayed relatives”
In terms of powder absorption speed, Threads has created “the first in history”. Just after it went online on July 6, within 4 hours, it exceeded 5 million user registrations. Twenty-four hours later, that figure had doubled by another tenfold—and that’s not even counting the EU region. In the end, Threads attracted 100 million fans in 5 days. To reach this level of users, it took ChatGPT 2 months this year, TikTok 9 months, and Instagram, which was acquired by Meta, 2 and a half years.
Facts once again prove that in the Internet industry that advocates diminishing marginal effects, there is no golden rule and irreplaceable product-and trying to “tax” users is never a wise move.
When asked why a large number of users flocked to Threads, many early adopters mentioned to “City Boundary”: “Musk has contributed a lot.”
By the end of 2022, statistics from Morning Consult, a consulting agency, show that Musk’s support among American adults has dropped by 13%. In recent years, Musk’s various absurd “crazy” behaviors have become an entertainment meme in the United States.
Especially from the end of October 2022, after Musk acquired Twitter for US$44 billion, he launched a vigorous “Muskization” campaign in this old social product: layoffs, revisions, price increases, account bans, and finally attempted to limit users. The number of posts, the implementation of “paid browsing”, and a set of operations have offended internal employees, external organizations and a large number of core users.
According to media reports, at the beginning of his tenure, Musk laid off thousands of employees drastically. Including three executives including then CEO Parag Agrawal. After a Twitter engineer publicly expressed his displeasure, Musk fired him directly in a tweet.
A Twitter employee who was laid off last year told Urban Boundary that many employees received the dismissal emails on their way to work. After they came to the office, all access control and account information could no longer be opened. “In Silicon Valley, only Musk has the guts to do things so rudely.”
In addition, Musk also announced the cancellation of the remote office system and required extended working hours. And reminded everyone in an internal memo to be prepared to accept “extremely difficult” work, and asked employees to express their views on “Twitter2.0”. His intentions are also obvious: If you don’t follow me, get out.
However, most companies dare to PUA employees, but dare not offend users. Only Musk dared to do the opposite, and simply raised the price of the user’s authentication account subscription service “Twitter Blue” again, from $4.99 to $8.
What is even more unacceptable is that without notifying users, Musk began to modify the platform rules again. Less than two weeks ago, thousands of users were unable to read content on the platform and were prompted to log in when using Twitter’s guest mode. In this regard, Musk explained that this is to fight against AI companies that are over-grabbing data, and to allow users to “stay away from mobile phones and spend more time with their families.”
In early July, Twitter further limited the number of tweets that free users could read in a day. Verified users (blue label users) can read 10,000 tweets per day, unverified old users can only view 1,000 tweets, and unverified new users can only browse 500 tweets per day.
As for the reason for doing this, Musk once again explained lightly in the way of forcibly “upping the value”: “The reason for setting the limit on the number of tweets is because we are all ‘Twitter addicts’, and everyone is in a trance in the online world every day. , (so) I’m doing a good thing for the world.”
All these “perverse” operations have caused widespread dissatisfaction and “fleeing” from users. Topics such as “Twitter is dead” and “Rest in peace Twitter” have hit the hot list one after another, and frustrated users have begun to look for new alternatives.
The recent scolding battle between 52-year-old Musk and 39-year-old Zuckerberg has also made it more natural for Meta to step up the launch of its competing product Threads.
Although it has been an open secret that the two rich men have not dealt with each other for many years-Musk has deleted the accounts of individuals, Tesla, and SpaceX on Facebook. Zuckerberg said: Musk’s rocket blew up Facebook’s satellite.
But starting in June, the scolding war between the two suddenly escalated. On June 20, Musk tweeted that he would have a duel with Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg hit back bluntly on Instagram: Send me my address.
On June 21, Musk tweeted again: It is recommended to choose Las Vegas as the location. Zuckerberg responded: If it is true, I will be there.
For this appointment, the people who eat melons are naturally “it’s not a big deal to watch the excitement”. Musk’s mother, who resolved the fight, also provided more discussion to some extent. On June 22 and 23, Mayer Musk tweeted successively, saying: “Don’t make jokes, let’s just fight with each other”, and “The game has been cancelled, let’s leave.” Musk responded like a Like a coquettish child: “Don’t do this, Mom, I want to compete with him”, and commented on netizens: “She never asks me to do interesting things”.
Regarding the performance of these two, most of the industry believes that this is nothing more than a repeat of Musk’s enthusiasm for “manipulating” traffic. But this time, Musk may have mistakenly given Zuckerberg an excellent opportunity to “start a war”. Twitter’s push for “paid browsing” is already unpleasant, and Musk’s appointments are extremely irrational. Meta quickly captured this wave of turbulent demand—Threads, which was originally scheduled to be launched at the end of July, was launched ahead of schedule.
Copycat Twitter Victory Law
Judging from the recent traffic performance of Threads, many users seem to be determined to “move” from Twitter and are not going to come back.
Recent media reports: Since Threads went live, at least two third-party agencies have estimated that Twitter traffic has fallen in tandem, suggesting that its users may switch to Threads instead of using both platforms at the same time.
According to Forbes statistics, after Threads went online, 4 of the 15 richest people in the world have registered verified accounts, including: Zuckerberg, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg.
What’s more interesting is that many celebrities are also taking the lead. For example, the eldest sister Courtney and the second sister Kim of the Kardashian family have quickly landed on Threads. The well-known host Oprah and music queen Jennifer Lopez also joined the ranks of free platforms for Thread.
For the rapid conversion of celebrities, Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the most direct reason is: “Musk has done one thing after another to anger his user base.”
In addition to celebrities, many large corporate brands have also settled in. According to incomplete statistics, Netflix, NBA, WNBA, Microsoft, McDonald’s, HGTV, PlayStation, Wimbledon, Ford, Charles Schwab, BBC and Def Jam Record companies have successively opened accounts on Threads.
In fact, it has been a long time since Meta hoped to take over Twitter’s position. According to public information, Meta’s research and development of Threads began in November 2022. In January 2023, Meta officially launched the project.
However, judging from the page design, functions and logic of the final launch, Threads is just a lackluster product.
Although Threads has also made some limited innovations: you can post text within 500 words, and you can also share videos and pictures up to 5 minutes. “Swiping videos is better than Instagram and YouTube.” A user who experienced Threads commented, “A clean (ad-free) Twitter.”
But to a greater extent, Threads is almost a 1:1 replica of Twitter. Similar to Twitter’s functions, users can post short content on Threads, see other users’ replies, likes, and forwards, and can also follow topics, people, or organizations of interest, and get the latest information in real time.
Threads even brought over some Twitter-specific elements, such as hashtags, blue tick certifications, and trending lists.
But just such a “cottage” Twitter is enough to beat the “betrayed” Musk into disgrace. At present, Threads does not have an official Chinese translation name. Some people ridicule its attribute of “fighting” Twitter, and suggest that “it is better to call it Shaoniao”. The surging support on the Internet also made Zuckerberg very happy. Recently, he said publicly that the number of Threads users will be 1 billion in the future!
As for the simple “plagiarism” of Threads, which “stolen” 100 million Twitter users, Musk obviously did not expect the difference in his popularity.
Except for the first time, Twitter blocked the link sharing of Threads, and Musk tweeted one after another, accusing Zuckerberg of having no lower limit. In a lawyer’s letter sent to Meta, Twitter accused it of systematically, willfully, and illegally misappropriating Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property, and poaching its employees to build the Threads platform. A Meta spokesman said there are no former Twitter employees on the Threads engineering team.
In desperation, Musk frequently “runs away” in anger on the Internet-and these irrational behaviors may be bringing a greater shadow to Twitter in the future.
After Threads went online, on July 9, Musk directly scolded Zuckerberg as a “soft guy” on Twitter; he even proposed to compare the size of “Ding Ding” with him. And then Zuckerberg’s response also made netizens question: “I’m not a softie.”
Regarding the frequent scolding performance of the two richest men who “fell below the line”, some netizens commented: So what about the rich, it is still “nerd VS nerd”.
And some users who have just migrated to Threads have also begun to feel: In terms of “bottom line”, Musk and Zuckerberg may only be in the middle.
On the one hand, Threads user growth rate is so amazing, of course, there is Musk’s unpopularity, but also because of its extremely low threshold for attracting new users: it directly undertakes the natural traffic of Instagram’s over 1.45 billion registered users.
According to media reports: Most of the Threads team is composed of the early Instagram team, and the “bundling” of the two is now very close: if you want to delete the Threads account, you have to cancel the account together with Instagram-and this is for most users. Said, naturally unacceptable.
Under the squeeze of the two richest men who have gradually thrown off their underwear, some users have simply turned to a more “quiet” platform-according to statistics, dozens of Japanese and Korean painters have opened accounts on Sina Weibo in recent days.
How long can Threads be popular?
However, Zuckerberg has no time to care about the hidden dangers of Threads in the future. In recent years, it has been a long-lost victory for him to return to the “classical medium” for a short time.
After all, since changing its name to Meta in 2021 and betting on Metaverse, this technology company that started as a social networking platform has fallen into a long crisis.
In July 2022, as the Metaverse has been gradually ridiculed as “secret”, and at the same time affected by the decline in the US macro economy and advertising revenue, Meta’s second quarter revenue fell by 1% year-on-year, recording the company’s first quarterly revenue in history. Revenue fell year-on-year.
This “pot” was dumped on TikTok by Zuckerberg.
“The reason is all TikTok.” Zuckerberg has publicly complained more than once that TikTok has taken away market share and advertisers’ budgets, and suggested that the U.S. legislature strengthen supervision and restrictions on TikTok. But at the same time, Meta is sparing no effort to “TikTokize” internally: first, it changed the platform algorithm, rebuilt Facebook’s information flow, and also hoped to introduce short Instagram videos into it, breaking Facebook’s acquaintance social gameplay.
Subsequently, Instagram, which was acquired by Meta, also announced that it will focus on short videos and display them in full screen, and users will also receive more content recommended by the platform algorithm. The move was subsequently met with joint protests from top internet celebrities including Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian.
According to the 2022 annual report, Meta’s total revenue was US$116.609 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 1.12%, and its net profit was US$23.2 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 41.07%-this is also the first decline since 2010.
Squeezed by the financial crisis, after layoffs of 11,000 in November last year, Meta announced in March this year that it would lay off 10,000 in 2023 and cancel the recruitment plan for 5,000 vacancies; Projects, implement “flat” management among middle managers.
At the same time, Metaverse and virtual reality businesses, which Meta has made heavy bets on, are also in crisis.
In 2021, as the concept of “Metaverse” was exploded, Facebook announced that it would transform into a Metaverse company in five years, and then changed the company’s name to “Meta”. Before and after that, although Meta has consolidated its industry position in the VR/AR headset market by investing in the acquisition of hardware vendors such as Oculus: according to IDC data, in 2022, Meta will rank first with a global market share of 80%. Followed by ByteDance PICO accounted for only 10%.
But this year, the operating loss of Meta’s “reality laboratory” department has reached 13.717 billion US dollars, an increase of 35% over the previous year. And Wall Street is obviously unwilling to buy these illusory “future stories”: Meta’s stock price once fell by more than 20%, falling to the lowest level in nearly four years.
Entering 2022, the cooling of the Metaverse is even more rapid: the monthly active users of Horizon Worlds, a virtual social platform under Meta, are only 200,000, and it is difficult to meet the expectation of reaching 500,000 monthly active users by the end of 2022. In March of this year, Meta stopped the development of the XROS project, an operating system developed for VR/AR devices, and fired the first shot to reduce the cost of the Metaverse. Since then, references to the Metaverse have dropped dramatically, both in Zuckerberg’s open letter and in conference calls.
However, from the instructions for using Threads, we can still get a glimpse of Zuckerberg’s more pragmatic “Metaverse Dream”: “The future version of Threads will be integrated on the Fediverse network, and Threads accounts can communicate with users of other decentralized social platforms. interactive.”
The so-called Fediverse is a word composed of the words “Federation” and “Universe”. In simple terms, this is a decentralized service network. However, short-lived social applications in the name of “decentralization” are not new: Since 2022, products such as Damus and Mastodon, which are concerned by the Web3 circle, have been launched one after another. But later, most of the products persuaded a large number of users because they needed to log in with an encrypted wallet and the use was not smooth.
In the future, how many users can Threads stabilize by “rubbing” Musk’s negative traffic? Perhaps the core question is: Considering the cost of migration, why do people abandon the fixed and formed social chain and use new social products instead? Unless there are new features that can attract everyone to continue to try early adopters, no user must “must use” any product.
Generally speaking, fast-growing user numbers are often difficult to retain. “What we really need to observe is how many active users are left after one week or two weeks.” A senior Internet observer told “City Boundary”.
And excluding the “product locusts” that flooded in early (referring to onlookers other than the product’s target users, curious tourists, investors looking for projects, or product managers who come to do competitive product research), can users continue to retain? On this “twitter knockoff” platform, it remains to be seen.
For example, on the Chinese Internet, the popularity of Threads has hardly caused waves. Unlike the voice social product Clubhouse, which attracted a large number of users to sign up because of the presence of celebrities such as Musk, this time there are almost only Internet researchers, Web3 practitioners keen to study “decentralization”, and product managers who are willing to experience and analyze We joined the wave of registrations.
And many of these users who were just “early adopters” and didn’t pay attention to the grievances between Musk and Zuckerberg soon lost interest in the new Threads position: “After playing for a few days, I really don’t have anything I want to see, and I have returned Twitter.”