In a radical rebrand, Twitter owner Elon Musk has begun the process of replacing Twitter’s iconic bird logo with an X.
Musk made a shock announcement about his plans early Sunday. By Monday morning US time, he tweeted that X.com now points to Twitter.com.
“Interim X logo goes live later today,” he wrote, shortly before sharing a photo of Twitter’s headquarters lit up by a giant new X.
The social media giant’s official account now has the same logo, although the familiar blue bird can still be seen on the website.
Earlier, he said he was bidding “adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, to all the birds.”
Twitter (TWTR), founded in 2006, has used its vibrant, globally recognized blue bird emblem for more than a decade.
The rebranding could be seen as something of a “Hail Mary” branding overhaul for the company: Musk has repeatedly warned in recent months that Twitter, which is facing huge losses in ad revenue, was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Adding to the pressure, earlier this month rival social media platform Threads launched from Facebook (FB) parent Meta. It passed 100 million user registrations in its first week.
Twitter had 238 million active users before being taken private by Musk in October 2022.
One of the world’s richest men, Musk was once best known for his innovative efforts through his companies SpaceX and Tesla ( TSLA ) to launch rockets and build electric cars.
Now, many of the headlines he makes are for his eccentric comments on his personal Twitter account – often sharing conspiracy theories and engaging in public banter on the social media platform.
Musk overhauled the site after buying it for $44 billion in late October, followed by mass layoffs, disputes over millions of dollars allegedly owed in severance pay and Musk’s memo to employees that staying at the company would mean “working long, high-intensity hours.” He wrote, “Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”
The upheaval prompted organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, Free Press and GLAAD to push brands to rethink advertising on Twitter.
The groups pointed to the mass layoffs as a key factor in their thinking, citing fears that Musk’s cuts would make Twitter’s election integrity policies effectively unenforceable, even if they technically remain active.
Musk also began overseeing controversial policy changes that led to frequent service disruptions at Twitter and altered his own reputation in the process.
David Odisho/Getty Images
Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco in November 2022
In June, Musk named Linda Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal marketing executive, as CEO of the company.
She commented on the name change on Twitter on Sunday afternoon: “It’s an extraordinarily rare thing – in life or in business – that you get another chance to make another big impression. Twitter made a huge impact and changed the way we communicate. Now X will go further and transform the global square.”
As the new venture begins, it faces challenges. Musk recently revealed that the platform still has a negative cash flow due to a 50% drop in advertising revenue and heavy debt loads.
Criticizing the exit, or hiatus, of such Twitter advertisers as General Mills ( GIS ), Macy’s ( M ) and some auto companies that compete with Tesla, Musk has called himself a “free speech absolute” and said he wanted to buy Twitter to strengthen users’ ability to speak freely on the platform.
Musk explained his approach to free speech by saying, “Is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like? And if that is the case, then we have freedom of speech.”
He added that Twitter would “be very reluctant to delete things” and that the platform would aim to allow all legal speech. Many users have worried that it could mean an increase in hate speech.
Meanwhile, the initial frenzy surrounding rival Threads seems to have come back down to earth, especially since it has been plagued with spam and lacks more user-friendly features that Twitter, or now X, offers.
Adam Mosseri, who is overseeing the Threads launch for Meta, has hinted at plans to add features like a desktop version of the app, a feed of only accounts a user follows, and an edit button.
Its ability to draw advertising support is yet to be proven.