Elon Musk has been pushing the X brand since before the turn of the century, starting with online banking site X.com in 1999.
Musk has been open about his love of the letter X for a long time. Many people are only becoming aware of it now that he’s folded one of the largest social media sites on the internet into his X plans.
Here’s the timeline of his love for the letter.
In 1999, Musk and three other cofounders launched X.com.
It was an online bank that merged with a competitor, Confinity, in 2000. That same year, Musk was voted out as CEO, replaced by Peter Thiel.
2001: Musk loses X.com to PayPal
In 2001, X.com became PayPal. As noted by author Max Chafkin, Musk wanted PayPal to feature X both in logo and name (X-PayPal), but that never came to be. Focus tests showed the X branding stirred porn-related associations.
Musk founded the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, otherwise known as SpaceX, in 20o2
2015: Tesla’s Model X
Fast-forward to 2015, Elon Musk’s car company Tesla introduced the Model X, a midsize electric SUV.
2017: Musk buys back X.com
And later, in 2017, Musk buys back the X.com domain from his PayPal days.
The entreprenuer planted the seed for what would eventually be Twitter’s replacement.
2020: It’s a boy named X!
Then, in 2020, Musk made headlines for naming his newborn child X Æ A-12 Musk. Due to Californian laws regarding birth-certificate-acceptable naming conventions, the boy’s name was modified to X Æ A-Xii since numbers weren’t permissible. The letter X remains the child’s first name.
2023: Twitter joins X Corp.
In early 2023, Musk folded Twitter into X Corp., the company underpinning his X app plans (which have been gestating since he bought Twitter in 2022, if not even earlier). It’s a division of X Holdings Corp. — also owned by Musk.
Also founded in early 2023 was xAI, Musk’s new artificial intelligence startup. To note, this venture isn’t Musk’s first go-round with AI, as he was a cofounder of OpenAI. Now, however, he has an AI startup with X in the name.
This all leads to now.
With Twitter being completely rebranded as X, the soon-to-be “everything app.” At the very least, that’s Musk’s goal for the platform formerly known as Twitter. If you go to X.com, it redirects to no-longer-Twitter (X).
The real question is whether this massive X gamble will pay off. Many experts wonder if Musk eradicating Twitter’s brand cache with a snap of his fingers will backfire. There’s also the question of how a grand “everything app” plan will be achieved, given how hastily many of Twitter’s recent pivots have been, wherein features are implemented, changed, and taken away at such a breakneck pace that it’s unclear if X has the foundational stability to become something more than Twitter.
That lack of stability is why Meta launched a rival app, Threads, to capitalize on an opening in the market created by X’s volatility.