Twitter Spaces groans under weight of Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk's egos
It should really take more than half a million people to melt your servers
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's plan to hold an "historic" US presidential campaign launch on a Twitter Spaces stream went about as well as you'd expect on a platform slowly collapsing under the weight of its former CEO's hubris.
Twitter Spaces, an audio-only streaming service, melted in the face of DeSantis-drawn crowds, with technical glitches leading to minutes of dead air, feedback and hushed whispers exchanged between hosts Musk and fellow PayPal alum David Sacks, and the nervous hum of assistants.
A highlight reel of the disaster posted to Reddit captured some of the most entertaining bits. Favorites include frantic whispers of "now it's quiet" after the microphone feedback cleared, signaling to Sacks it was his time to speak. As it turned out, the entrepreneur didn't get through his introduction before technical issues caused the stream to go dead.
"We've got so many people here that we're kinda melting the servers," Sacks said, "which is a good sign," he added, before launching into effusive praise of Musk's purchase of Twitter until the steam crashed again. "There's 382,000 people on," an unidentified person said on the stream as it came back online.
According to The Washington Post, the stream reached a peak of 600,000 people while speakers, including DeSantis and Sacks, disappeared from the call amid all the technical difficulties.
"We've never seen this before," Musk remarked during the stream, which doesn't bode well for his predictions that Twitter will have more than one billion users by 2024.
Like any bad Teams meeting, after around 20 minutes of failures to get the stream started with Musk's account as the host, the group jumped to a new Twitter Spaces hosted by Sacks, but only around 150,000 people bothered tuning in by the time DeSantis started speaking, WP reported.
Sacks was shuttled to Fox News after the event, where host Laura Ingraham asked him what exactly happened. "We had a million people simultaneously trying to get into a Twitter space," Sacks claimed.
Sacks said Twitter Spaces had never had that level of traffic before, with his estimate of the previous largest stream topping out at around 100,000 watchers.
The town square that couldn't
If 382,000 people are able to crash a Twitter Space, perhaps Musk and company need to place a call to video streaming site Twitch, which boasts that its average site-wide viewership at any given moment is around 2.5 million people.
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For those who may argue that those 2.5 million Twitchers weren't watching the same stream, that's not necessarily true. As of December of last year, several Twitch streamers have racked up concurrent viewers in the millions. We asked Twitch how it manages to record millions of stream viewers without melting its own servers, but didn't immediately hear back.
One of the suggestions that Twitch may have for Twitter is to not fire more than 80 percent of your staff and cut your engineering team to a mere 550 people who are worried they won't be able to maintain the service.
Twitter has also been bouncing its backend between datacenters, which caused at least a couple of glitches and outages earlier this year. With Musk's modus operandi appearing to center on not paying bills to cut costs, the bird site may simply not have the infrastructure left to handle a large – or even moderate, by internet standards – influx of users.
We asked Twitter for an explanation of its performance yesterday, but in lieu of a helpful response only received the poop emoji. Again. ®