Honestly, it’s hard to know what exactly the status of Elon’s Musk’s “X” project currently is, due to conflicting reports about its performance.
Today marks a year since Musk took ownership of Twitter, which he’s since re-branded to X, as part of his long-held vision to create a payments-centered “everything app”, modeled on Chinese messaging platforms like WeChat, which have become essential connection tools for billions of users.
Musk believes that X can become the same, but again, right now, it’s not entirely clear how X is developing towards that division.
Based on insights shared by X CEO Linda Yaccarino, everything’s going well, with her latest blog post claiming that:
- X has over 500 million monthly active users
- X users spend 7.8 billion active minutes on X per day
- The average user spends more than 32 minutes per day in the app
- Around 1.5 million new accounts are being created every day
- All major ad agencies have reversed their pause guidance against advertising on X
- 90 of X’s top 100 ad spenders from a year ago have now resumed campaigns
But as noted, many of these stats are refuted by third-party analysis, or even a basic dig into X’s own reported numbers.
On active users, according to data from SimilarWeb (published this week by Axios), X’s monthly active user count has actually fallen by 14.8% globally, and by 17.8% in the U.S. year-over-year, for the month of September.
Last September, X had around 238 million daily active users, which likely means that X was serving around 439 million monthly actives, based on average DAU to MAU variation across social apps. That would mean that, based on SimilarWeb’s indicators, X would currently be seeing around 378 million monthly active users, not 500 million, as X claims.
Other third-party analysis tells a similar tale. Data from Apptopia suggests that X currently has around 223 million monthly actives, and 121 million daily users, with the app seeing a drastic decline in both usage and downloads since the rebrand to X in July.
But at the same time, neither SimilarWeb nor Apptopia can access to the full data insights, with only X having complete oversight. Though their figures are generally indicative, which seems to suggest that X probably doesn’t have 500 million monthly users at this stage.
But we don’t know, because X is now a private company, and as such, it’s not beholden to SEC rules around disclosure. So we only have X’s word, and X says it’s 500 million.
Make of that what you will.
In terms of average time spent in the app per day, X itself has reported that it currently has 253 million daily actives, which would mean that if users are spending a cumulative 7.8 billion minutes per day in the app, as reported by Yaccarino, then the average time spent is actually 30.8 minutes per user, not 32 minutes per day as Yaccarino claims.
If the average time spent per user is actually 32 minutes per day, as X says, then that would mean that X is now serving 244 million daily actives, which would mean that it’s lost 7 million DAU since March.
And if that’s true, then those 1.5 million new account sign-ups that the app’s seeing are not sticking around, because X should be adding 45 million new users every month at that rate.
But it’s losing daily actives? Doesn’t seem like a great indicator of success.
X also claims that all of its major ad partners are coming back, but Ebiquity, which works with 70 of the world’s top 100 spending brands, claims that only two of its clients have resumed X ad spend. X has also started selling ad inventory through Google Ads to fill slots, which would appear to suggest that if these brands are returning, they’re spending a lot less.
But again, we don’t know, because X is the only one with all the data, and the only means of knowing for sure how X is going will be its financial performance. Which will also remain unclear, till Musk and Co. decide to report those figures.
And that might only come when X is really struggling, though it does seem somewhat indicative of a problem when the banks that loaned Elon Musk $13 billion for his acquisition are now anticipating a significant loss, as they try to offload the debt.
Fidelity, which itself owns a stake in the company, has cut X’s valuation by two-thirds, which means the platform would currently be worth around $15 million, as opposed to the $44 billion Musk paid for it.
So while X’s team is trying to paint a rosy picture, every external analysis suggests otherwise. And maybe they’re all wrong, but it does seem like there’s something not quite on the nose about the data being shared.
On other elements, Yaccarino also says that each day, “150,000 new long form posts are published, receiving more than 3 billion impressions.”
Long-form content is a significant departure from what Twitter had been, which hasn’t really seemed like a great fit, but maybe there is an audience for it, based on these figures. Though again, the detail is absent, in regards to what actually defines a long-form post in this context (i.e. is that any post that you have to tap into to read, or is it only posts of a certain word count?).
Yaccarino also says that the average X Premium subscriber spends three times longer on the platform than a non-subscriber. Which is zero surprise at all, but that would also mean that this segment would be skewing the average time spent numbers, on aggregate.
In terms of coming features, Yaccarino has said that full-screen, vertical video ads will soon be displayed within X’s new immersive playback mode, which is when you tap through on a video and scroll up to keep seeing more. Yaccarino says that 100 million people now view video content within this dedicated feed every day, with Gen Z being the most active consumers of this process.
Finally, Yaccarino says that its in-stream payments process is in development, with X being granted money transmitter licenses in several U.S. states. As we’ve reported, X has been granted payments licenses in some states, but it still has a long way to go in gaining full approval on this front.
I don’t know, it feels almost too skeptical to question every one of X’s claims, but again, this is based on external analysis and reporting, at a broad scale, which contradicts Yaccarino’s various notes. Maybe they’re all wrong, maybe X is actually doing awesome, and maybe Threads, which is now up to 100 million users, is having no impact at all on X usage.
But that seems very unlikely, when every other mode of analysis and insight is reporting the same.
We’ll find out, as X continues on its path.