Hooray, more news about Elon Musk! In this latest example of his ‘Gung-ho’ management approach, Musk has seemingly reversed the unpopular decision to charge for all usage of Twitter’s API, at least in some apps. As per Musk’s Tweet, Twitter will continue to allow ‘bots providing good content’ to access Twitter’s API for free, which would already mark a loss for the company’s recent decision to paywall API access.
Who’s A Good Bot?
Much of the angst around the current situation came down to poor communication. Last week, Twitter announced that free access to its API would be barred behind payment starting February 9th, which was a crippling blow for many third-party apps and bots that needed access to function. This triggered a strong response by the developer community, to which Musk promptly responded a day later, providing some more context that would’ve avoided generating anger in the first place had it just been properly communicated.
The bigger question now is whether $100 is any disincentive to spammers, who likely make way more than that simply from bot activity. Regardless, $100 is likely affordable for most of the third-party apps that looked set to lose the most from this policy update. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem as bad as it first seemed. It’s just a very good example of what happens when there’s bad communication.
Another key thing to note here is that Musk loves attention. One of his undeniable skills is his ability to make headlines, and to get people to look his way. Musk is pretty much doing to Twitter what he did with Tesla to give it more attention – saying completely ambiguous statements to rouse people’s curiosity. Is it a good thing? Drawing the ire of the developer community seems like unnecessary collateral damage, while the resulting negativity it creates also works to the detriment of making functional agreements with external partners and suppliers.
Essentially, ‘Twitter 2.0’ has been a window into Musk’s ‘hardcore’ management style, which isn’t solely reliant on internal debate and decision-making, but also takes audience response into account. Musk’s highly dichotomized approach to running things, while it has caused him to sometimes run into trouble, has, for the most part, worked. It could make Twitter finally catch a long-overdue ‘Big Break’.
With less than 70% of his total staff, Musk just doesn’t have the luxury of time. However, he has repeatedly shown a willingness to listen to the case for and against each update and shift back accordingly. So, while Musk certainly made some bad decisions and will likely continue doing so, Twitter is moving fast. Musk seems confident that he can convert this latest push into a revenue-positive business. For now, your weather bots, system updates, and automated accounts will continue working, unless Musk decides to mess with everyone’s head and change his mind again.