Twitter said to consider selling user names to boost revenue

January 13, 2023

Twitter is considering selling user names through online auctions to generate new revenue as its owner, Elon Musk, tries to resuscitate the company’s business, according to two people with knowledge of the plan, reports The New York Times.

Twitter employees have held conversations about selling some user names for the service since at least December, the informants said. Engineers have discussed running online auctions where people can bid for the user names, which are the words, numbers—or string of characters that follow the @ sign—by which accounts are identified on the platform. Musk’s user name, for example, is @elonmusk.

It’s unclear if the project will move forward and if the plan would affect all user names or only a subset—but Musk said last month that he wanted to start eliminating inactive accounts on Twitter and free up 1.5 billion user names. Only certain user names—such as those of well-known people, brands, and popular names— may have value.

The social media company has been in turmoil since Musk bought it for $44 billion in October. Given the deal’s high price tag, the billionaire is under pressure to make the purchase a success.

Musk has since slashed expenses at Twitter—ordering layoffscutting other costs, and stopping vendor payments. At the same time, he has tried finding new avenues to make money as Twitter experiences a sharp downturn in ad revenue. He has come up with a revamped subscription plan under which users pay for verification badges, and the company has filed paperwork with the Treasury Department to process payments.

Research contact: @nytimes