Musk borrowed $13B to buy Twitter for a total of $44B, but that’s not what tech debt is. Software developers use the term in various ways, referring to either features or bugs or unsupported software and systems. I think it’s a relevant term to understand in the debate on how Musk is killing Twitter.
I would argue the $13B in debt, while hemorrhaging advertisers, will be enough to kill Twitter. Ultimately. Musk has already publicly stated that bankruptcy is a possibility. But that just leads to all the half-way plausible stories of why he actually acquired the platform. It’s safe to say no one buys a media platform nowadays to make money. The irony there is that section 230 would say Twitter is not a media firm, it’s a technology firm. Right.
I’ve followed some of what Karen Swisher has been saying on Twitter. To the point above on whether Musk is trying to purposely destroy Twitter’s revenue model, she says to follow the money. The second largest investor with Musk is Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and his Kingdom Holding Company. There’s likely a good story there.
Swisher also suggested though that the employee exodus is not that critical. That Twitter can simply run on autopilot for awhile. This is where I take issue. Maybe for a short while, but you have to appreciate the impact of tech dept. It’s the entropy in the software ecosystem. In terms of features, if you’re not releasing new features, you’re dying. Regarding bugs and system currency, doing nothing quickly leads to unsupportable code. At a certain point of running deprecated software, you can’t release new features. And fall behind just a little bit on applying SW patches leads to breaches.
It’s hard to imagine Twitter could die overnight with 400M users. Especially if Musk doesn’t care about revenue. And to be honest, I sort of buy into that line of thinking. It’s possible he’s so out of touch with humanity that he doesn’t realize how he is driving employees away. It’s more likely he’s purposely downsizing. He believes the platform will remain relevant enough for him to own a global megaphone. I don’t think it’s going to work out. He’s underestimated the uber entropy exacted by tech debt. And without sufficient staffing, twitter is going to drown in tech debt.