X looks back at year of so-called 'engineering excellence' under Musk
Now please subscribe to premium and let us host your 'entire financial life'
It's no longer just opinion to say the platform formerly known as Twitter has declined in many ways since Elon Musk's takeover, but you wouldn't know that from the sound of all the back-patting from what's left of the company's engineering team.
In a post to X on Friday by the XEng account used by Musk's social media engineering team, a list of "the most important improvements we have made under the hood" was shared, complete with several accomplishments that, in context, aren't necessarily things to be proud of.
X "shutdown [sic] the Sacramento data center," while at the same time "optimiz[ing its] use of cloud service providers and began doing much more on-prem," the team said.
XEng claims the moves freed up 48MW of electricity, got rid of 60k pounds of network ladder rack and reduced X's cloud costs by 60 percent - but it may not have made those moves willingly.
In July, shortly before then-Twitter had a chaotic weekend when Musk declared everyone on the platform was being rate-limited to some degree (based on whether they paid), it came out that the company owed tens of millions of dollars to AWS and Google for cloud services it decided not to pay for, among other cost-cutting vendor stiffing. Linda Yaccarino, Musk's self-replaced Twitter CEO, was reportedly negotiating with Google in the days running up to the company's $300m annual cloud contract was due to expire, but XEng's post suggests the company decided to go in another direction.
Twitter's reported datacenter migration, which began in early 2022, also wasn't without its snafus, with lots of glitches following what should have been a pretty calm process.
XEng also suggested that X has made progress in its fight against bots. "Blocked bots and content scrapers at a rate +37% greater than 2022," XEng said. "On average, we prevent more than 1M bots signup attacks each day and we've reduced DM spam by 95%."
Anyone who's continued using X knows bots are running rampant over there since Musk took over, and the elimination of Twitter's verification process has done little to fix it.
Along with those questionable improvements, XEng also said it "consolidated the tech stacks for For you, Following, Search, Profiles, Lists, Communities and Explore" and "completely rebuilt the For you serving and ranking systems from the ground up," reducing lines of code from 700k to 70k. The engineering team also said it "refactored the API middleware layer … and in doing so simplified the architecture by removing more than 100k lines of code."
Xitter API changes, for those that don't recall, didn't exactly go over very well.
Everything we do, we do it for Elon's bottom line
The thread that runs through XEng's "engineering excellence" claims mostly boil down to one thing, be they shrunken code, reduced datacenter use, eliminated services or any other optimizations: Cost savings.
X is still hemorrhaging cash despite not paying its bills, largely because it's chased away its advertisers in, as The Washington Post describes it, Musk has tilted the site to the rightward side of the political spectrum, exchanging ad dollars for a proliferation of misinformation.
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- The Anti Defamation League is Musk's latest excuse for Twitter's tanking ad revenue
- Musk, Yaccarino contradict each other on status of X's election integrity team
- X Corp is now suing a sublessee for unpaid rent
A new reduced-price $3/month Basic plan was revealed on Friday, which allows users to write longer posts, get a "reply boost," edit posts and customize the X app. The $8/month premium tier remains largely unchanged, with the previous features and the addition of post monetization, and a new $16/month Premium+ gets rid of ads in the For You and Following feeds and further boosts replies.
Musk also reportedly said during an all-hands call, details of which were leaked to the press, that he wanted to add dating app features to X. During the same meeting, Musk allegedly set a goal of having users' "entire financial life" on X by the end of 2024, essentially replacing banks and stock trading platforms.
"If it involves money. It'll be on our platform — money or securities or whatever," Musk reportedly said during the call. After all, handing gobs of cash over to a mercurial, profit-obsessed billionaire has worked out well recently, so why not continue the practice? ®