Elon Musk killed off the Twitter logo on Monday, replacing the world-recognized blue bird with a white X as the tycoon accelerates his efforts to transform the floundering social media giant.
Musk and the company’s new chief executive Linda Yaccarino announced the rebranding Sunday, scrapping one of technology’s most iconic brands in the latest shock move since the tycoon took over Twitter nine months ago.
Musk’s connection to the letter X goes back nearly 24 years when he founded X.com that later was renamed PayPal despite his objections. His space company is called SpaceX and the parent company of Twitter was changed to X earlier this year.
He described the logo as “minimalist art deco,” and updated his Twitter bio to “X.com,” which now redirects to twitter.com.
The Tesla CEO also tweeted that under the site’s new identity, a post would be called “an X.”
Musk has said his takeover of the social media giant was “an accelerant to creating X, the everything app” — an app inspired by China’s WeChat that functions as a social media platform and also messaging and payments.
“You basically live on WeChat in China because it’s so usable and helpful to daily life, and I think if we can achieve that, or even get close to that at Twitter, it would be an immense success,” he told a company town hall meeting in June last year.
The new logo was projected onto the facade of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Sunday night.
“Powered by AI, X will connect us in ways we’re just beginning to imagine,” Yaccarino tweeted earlier.
Yaccarino, a former advertising sales executive at NBCUniversal who Musk hired last month to be Twitter’s CEO, said the social media platform was on the cusp of broadening its scope.
“X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities.”
The logo change was greeted with criticism as well as nostalgia for an image that had become a symbol for the social media age.
Martin Grasser, one of the original designers of the blue bird logo, wrote on social media that the emblem was intended to be “simple, balanced, and legible at very small sizes.”
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who signed off on the design in 2012, replied to Grasser with an emoji of a goat, meaning “greatest of all time.”
Esther Crawford, a former head of product at Twitter, said the change amounted to a form of “corporate seppuku,” the Japanese ritual suicide for samurais.
This is “usually committed by new management in pursuit of cost-savings due to a lack of understanding about the core business or disregard for the customer experience,” she added.
Since Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last October, the platform’s advertising business has collapsed as marketers soured on Musk’s management style and mass firings at the company that gutted content moderation.
Musk last week said Twitter has lost roughly half of its advertising revenue since he took the reins.
In response, the billionaire SpaceX boss has moved toward building a subscriber base in a search for new revenue.
Twitter is thought to have around 200 million daily active users, but it has suffered repeated technical failures since Musk sacked much of its staff.
Many users and advertisers alike have responded adversely to the social media site’s new charges for previously free services, its changes to content moderation, and the return of previously banned right-wing accounts
Facebook parent Meta also launched its text-based platform this month, called Threads, which has up to 150 million users according to some estimates.
But the amount of time users spend on the rival app has plummeted in the weeks since its launch, according to data from market analysis firm Sensor Tower.