The deal may have been signed, but the campaign is just beginning.
Elon should go over the heads of the establishment to offer all Twitter users a deal: every account worldwide gains full control over their username in a crypto wallet, plus a share of Twitter's new coin, if they can help him get the requisite legal clearance in their jurisdictions and the acquisition goes through. This brings most of the 217 million Twitter users – including the 179 million who are non-American – into the fight.
On Elon's side.
In the meantime, he's not sitting around till Oct 24 waiting for approval. Instead, he sets up a parallel site where users can log in with Twitter to vote for the Elondrop. That login mechanism serves as a rough voter registration step. And the group who thereby votes for Elon serves as a worldwide constituency, one he can point to each day as evidence of his growing grassroots support.
In short, Elon runs the first truly global political campaign, gaining an activist following in every country, incentivizing people and policymakers alike to Align with Elon for global freedom and prosperity. Any establishment attempt to oppose this will be seen for what it is: a ploy to digitally disenfranchise the users of Twitter, to stop them from gaining a share of the wealth they've created, to take away the following they've built, to buttress an illegitimate regime that survives only by silencing its subjects.
Elon thus takes a position of total moral authority: he proposes to give billions to millions, to give voices to the masses, to decentralize Twitter to its users, to turn it into the protocol it was always meant to be.
And if he doesn't do this? The American authorities may just take it all away.
Problem: Elon can't win a game of intra-American politics
The greatest strength is to know one's own weakness.
And Elon, despite being the richest man in the world, despite having millions of Americans on his side, despite having gotten Twitter to sign on the line which is dotted – Elon still doesn't quite have the coalition he needs to win, if he fights this as an intra-American political battle.
Because already we see a swarming, gathering horde that's going to spend every minute of the next few months trying to torpedo the deal. By dint of what it is, and who he is, Twitter and Elon have become the current thing – that which the establishment's malign attention is focused on.
Could they cut off Twitter from the internet? Ask the FCC to intervene? Get Twitter employees to leak? Accuse him of bad behavior? Claim he's violating a non-disparagement clause? Recall that all the stocks Elon possesses are held in US databases, all his companies are subject to US law, and most of his employees are based in the US. Anything and everything will be tried because the American establishment rightly senses they won't win a game of free speech and free markets anymore.
After all, until social media most people did not have practical freedom of speech. Only the owners of media corporations and their employees did. Giving anyone the ability to be publisher or writer has undermined their cartel. Technology checks their privilege, and so the empire has struck back. For some random Indian or Nigerian or Midwesterner or Middle Easterner to have a voice comparable to a US "journalist" is an intolerable affront.
And it is these users to whom Elon should appeal, these new voices. Not just the silenced Americans, who can't topple this tyranny on their own, but the silent supermajority – the 179 million monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) of Twitter who are not American, who have no vote in US elections, yet whose speech is nevertheless subject to the diktat of a US corporation.
In other words, Elon can't win if this is a US-only fight. He needs to go global.
Solution: Elon can win a game of global technology
It took $44 billion to acquire Twitter the company, but that was only step one. Elon now needs to acquire Twitter's users. And that's going to require massive amounts of political capital, not just financial capital.
Where's he going to get it? Twitter today is just a collection of quarreling accounts. Users aren't aligned around anything except the desire for more followers. Some are for free speech, some are against it, and many just don't care.
The promise of a coin changes all that.
Suddenly, every user has a rooting interest for the Elondrop. A decentralized Twitter could easily be as valuable as Ethereum's $350B, because Twitter already has a massive internal digital economy. A Twittercoin that served as the native payment instrument for ads and digital goods on platform would do well, and it could also be used to pay for a priority inbox: pay more to get to the top of someone's DMs, where the recipient can keep the funds or donate to charity. The experience of BNB shows that the applications of a new coin are limitless; the tokenomics of this project are the relatively easy part.
So let's assume Twittercoin can hit Ethereum's market cap. Divided by 217M Twitter users, $350B nets out to more than $1500 per person.
That is real money, even in America, and especially in the rest of the world.
And most of Twitter is the rest of the world. Non-American users constitute a full 82% of Twitter, 179M of the 217M monetizable daily active users. In fact, as there are only 38M American Twitter users in total, worldwide users constitute at least 56% of Elon's 87.5M-strong follower base, and probably much more than that.
In other words, Elon's following is already global.
Moreover, those global users might be coming for the coin, but they'd be staying for the freedom. While the implementation can vary, one way of doing the Elondrop is to allow every unique user to get a crypto wallet with not just their Twittercoins but the keys to their username. The latter would be an ENS-style NFT, a portable identity they could use to log in to any site going forward, without any prospect of revocation by Twitter. In other words, an end to recourseless deplatforming.
So – that's how global users gain freedom (as in free speech) and prosperity (as in free money) from the Elondrop.
But what can those global users do to make the Elondrop happen? Well, they can log in with Twitter at his parallel site and vote for the airdrop. They can increment a provable counter: every single day, another million people verifiably voting in favor of freedom and prosperity. They can use their voices to argue against any attempt to quash the deal or silence them – voices that have never been heard in unison before, voices that will shake the walls of the establishment. They can sign up millions of new Twitter users, users who also come for the coin and stay for the freedom. And, most importantly, they give us all a BATNA – in the event the deal doesn't go through, Elon now has tens of millions of signups at his new site that can bootstrap any new Twitter competitor he sets up.
The global users are, in short, the tide-turning wave of reinforcements that freedom loving Americans need in this social war.
Ethics: The imperative of internationalization
Why is it morally, economically, and politically necessary for Elon to tap into those 179 million global swing votes with an Elondrop?
It's morally necessary because American corporations exert influence abroad on people who have no say in American elections. Decentralizing Twitter into a web3 protocol where users own their own private keys changes the leverage of the situation. Granting individuals true digital property rights over their accounts turns them from serfs at the mercy of American corporate feudalists into self-sovereign actors in their own right. That's not only more just, but more profitable for both parties, because serfs can't invest in their land but free people can. Given just how much time and energy is spent by millions of people on these digital plots of land, this may be an unlock on par with Deng's reforms.
It's economically necessary because you don't spend 44 billion dollars without setting a few expectations. While Elon has said that he isn't buying Twitter for the money, and I fully believe him, the debt service alone on this deal reportedly exceeds Twitter's annual revenue. It's been true for some time that Twitter has not been a cash cow, and its role in the public conversation is disproportional to its revenue, but that's different than being a money pit. Perhaps it can be run as a break-even in perpetuity, but to achieve a return it won't be enough for Elon to simply fight spam. The Elondrop gives a path to $100B and beyond, numbers that haven't been posted in ten years of Twitter's existence as a public company.
Finally, it's politically necessary because in 2022, any centralized control over speech will eventually buckle to the wokes (in the West) or the nationalists (in China) — simply because these are the strongest factions in their respective jurisdictions. That's why two of the greatest founders of all time – Jack Dorsey and Jack Ma – had to yield, against their wills.
But going global and decentralized changes this. Elon has tens of millions of swing votes just over the rainbow, people who don't want to be dominated by either the Americans or the Chinese, netizens who want genuinely neutral global rule-of-law, Twitter users who'd love to get an Elondrop for their efforts and true control over their accounts.
Recall that Ben Franklin allied with the French to defeat the British, because he recognized how weak the fledgling American revolution was. Elon should likewise recognize that silenced Americans were defeated for a reason – they are poorer and weaker than the regime. The new money of tech on its own similarly doesn't have the roots in the country to beat the US establishment, as the city of San Francisco demonstrates.
But if Elon combines new money, with silenced Americans, and the global silent majority of Twitter users? If he decentralizes Twitter back to the people, and gives them a fair share of the value they created?
Then he has a coalition that can win.
1. There are many technical details we can get into, but in 2022 it is completely feasible to progressively decentralize Twitter, and turn it into a web3 protocol. One possible architecture: a public chain, a million hubs, and a billion spokes. The public chain is the global, corruption-resistant decentralized database which holds Twittercoin and the new Twittereum Name Service, an ENS-inspired registry of usernames. The hubs are the servers; while anyone can run a hub it'll take about as much technological expertise as deploying a website. And the spokes are the clients, which could be ordinary users, companies, or even bots and scripts.
2. It gets a bit technical, but something like the Twitter ENS-style NFT can be used to implement decentralized web3 login and end-to-end encrypted DMs, along with many other features.
3. That new site could even do its own airdrop, vesting only for those people who post a "final tweet" on Twitter, a proof-of-exit that splits Twitter's userbase into those who stay and those who leave. In other words, the users at this parallel site give Elon the ability to fork Twitter, taking millions of users from it overnight to boot up a new social network, and possibly crashing TWTR's stock price in the process. This is a strong incentive for Twitter Inc to stay the course rather than break the deal.
4. Tech only builds amazing things – it doesn't inherit newspapers, or control the money supply, or pass arcane laws. Indeed, in many ways the techlash of 2013-2019 can be re-conceptualized as employees of the manor-born teeing off on immigrant interlopers, old money against new money.