X says it's only worth $19B after year of Muskmanagement

Everything's down, except Elon's engagement, and that's what really matters, right?

The financial state of X, formerly Twitter, has remained cloudy since Elon Musk purchased it a little over a year ago, but internal documents are shedding some light on how much the company believes its worth.

It's a far cry from the $44 billion Musk paid for Twitter, now valued at just $19 billion.

While no longer a public company, X employees are eligible for equity compensation in the form of restricted stock units (RSUs) that only have value after a certain vesting period. According to an email reportedly sent to X employees yesterday, X is offering RSUs at $45 a share, putting the company's value at less than half of what Musk paid for it.

The Register was unable to obtain a copy of the email, and asking X for confirmation was met with an automated response and no further reply. Nonetheless, it's not like we didn't know $44 billion was an inflated number – Musk admitted as much before the deal even closed.

"Although, obviously, myself [sic] and the other investors are obviously overpaying for Twitter right now, the long-term potential for Twitter, in my view, is an order of magnitude greater than its current value," Musk said when speaking to Tesla investors during the company's Q3 2022 earnings call last year.

$19 billion, we note, is another drop from the company's reported $20 billion internal valuation in March.

The Twitter of old relied almost entirely on advertiser spending to keep the bills paid, but since Musk's takeover advertisers have fled in droves. In July, Musk said that X's advertising revenue was down by half. Subscriptions, which Musk and other social media companies are turning to as a new revenue stream, have been a limited success for X, with less than a million users estimated to have bought in to X Premium and Musk claiming the platform reached 541 million active users over the summer.

X recently rolled out two new subscription tiers, one at just $3/month and the other costing more than a month of ad-free Netflix, but with subscriber numbers already such a small share, it's unclear whether new offerings would make much of a dent in X's debt.

Meanwhile, the banks left holding $13 billion of bonds to help finance Musk's impulse buy can't unload the debt and are getting tetchy.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino met with several international financial institutions holding X debt this month, reportedly telling them X would finally be turning a profit sometime in 2024. Musk first claimed X was close to breaking even in April, a figure Yaccarino revised in August as still "near," but not there after four months of Musky maneuvering.

It's also worth noting that X's claims of new engagement highs don't hold up to third-party scrutiny, with web analytics firm Similarweb reporting earlier this month that, one year into Musk's tenure X engagement was "down by every measure." 

Global web traffic to twitter.com (which still works alongside x.com) was down 14 percent compared to a year prior, and in the US - X's largest base of users - it was down by 19 percent. Mobile app engagement was also down by 17.8 percent.

The social media sphere in general has experienced a drop in users, Similarweb noted, but only by 3.7 percent – in stark contrast with the drop in X engagement in the same period. 

"If Elon Musk wanted to build traffic to his social media profile, surely there must have been a cheaper and easier way," Similarweb noted. "Coming up on a year after his $44 billion purchase of Twitter … traffic to twitter.com/elonmusk/ is just about the only positive metric of success we can find." ®

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