The Clone Wars

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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The much anticipated app that shall not be named (T*reads) is now officially more than a week old and hasn’t killed Twitter yet. So far, Threads has reportedly been able to capture over 100 million signups in the first 4 days which, quite frankly, is pretty incredible even with the fact that they are starting with a ~2B user funnel from Instagram and Facebook. To put this in perspective, Threads has already achieved ¼th of the global MAU user base of Twitter.

According to the Atlantic, Twitter and Facebook each took more than four years to reach the 100-million-users milestone; Instagram took just over two. TikTok did in in nine months. ChatGPT did it in two months. And now Threads has done it in less than a week. Things move too fast now. We are entirely too connected.

As a power user of Twitter for more than 10 years, my dedication will always lie there, regardless of who is at the helm. If necessary I will go down with the ship, playing soothing melodies on my violin and tweeting to the death.

I have been tweeting and building a community under Ramp Capital pseudonym through 5 different CEOs. We’ve been through some things together. Market crashes, election cycles, pandemics, world cups, toppling of governments, and everything else under the sun that makes for good conversation and community building.

I have never been one to be extremely worried about Twitter going away or being challenged by a competitor as the network effects and social graphs were always too powerful. That being said, I do feel different about the launch of Threads. While it may not necessarily “kill” Twitter, it could kill the essence of what has always made it so great—a community that working together becomes a living and breathing organism to share ideas, politics, information and news. The result is mostly open, and many times raw dialogue no matter what your belief systems entail.

Why do I get these feelings of angst towards Threads? Because Zuck is ruthless and shameless and capitalistic to the core. He knows he doesn’t even have to kill Twitter completely but just grab enough eyeballs to turn his minimum viable product into a real machine that can start churning out ad dollars for his monopolistic empire. Some estimates have already pegged Threads at producing $3-5B in revenue per year once they turn on the ad spigot.

Competition breeds excellence. So even though Zuck has completely ripped off Twitter (and everything else he’s ever built), this will be a good test for Elon and Twitter to see how they will respond to the adversity. If Twitter can survive a direct Zuck attack, then they should be able to survive anything.

As a content creator WordChad, I took it upon myself to create a Threads account on the first day. I had no shame in it. Firstly, I wanted to see how the app functioned. The first 48 hours were pretty exciting. It was kind of interesting seeing people in my social graph’s reactions. Some were excited. Some were apprehensive. But after a week now, I can already tell my time continues to get sucked back to Twitter as the Threads feed is not robust, exciting, or real time.

CNBC is already reporting a massive drop in daily users and time spent. Time to pay the brands and celebs more money to drum up more cringe posts.

I feel I have a pretty good pulse on whether apps can achieve escape velocity or if they’ll die on the vine. Getting a massive amount of user downloads is always step number one. Step number two is to keep everyone engaged and producing content. That is the only way this thing can really thrive. Social media companies and their silos only work because of the content creators and their mediums. Zuck has already lit billions of dollars on fire chasing the metaverse dream, so I can see him doing the same here for as long as it takes to wound Twitter or the other Twitter clones. R.I.P. Bluesky.

In all fairness, I wanted to provide an honest breakdown of my initial take of what this app is doing well and what it’s doing poorly. Keep in mind Meta undoubtedly has their best team working on this right now and will likely iterate at light speed, so many of these criticisms will likely be stale in the next few days, weeks, or months.

The Good:

  • The onboarding was incredibly simple and part of the reason that I’m concerned it may stick around longer than other recent Twitter clones, including the decentralized ones. It took all but 1 minute to link my account through Instagram, write up a quick bio and the account was ready. Not only that, it now comes with a handy little badge underneath my Instagram handle that will direct users to my Threads account. The cross-promotion across the suite of Meta apps is a very nice touch.

  • So far I haven’t seen many issues with crashing or rate limits, which is pretty damn impressive considering they apparently have already added 100 million users so far. They can continue expanding rapidly on user signups from the 2B+ user funnel from Instagram. How active these signups will be over the next few weeks/months will be very telling to the stickiness of the app.

  • The UI/UX is relatively simple and smooth, not clunky or difficult to figure out like I’ve always found Snapchat to be.

The Bad:

  • No direct messaging. For most Twitter power users, we know this is where the secret sauce lies. So much of my time is spent in the Twitter DMs. Adam Mosseri has openly said they don’t plan to ever include DMs which is a huge mistake in my opinion. The “let’s move this conversation” offline is great in so many ways. If you’re rooting against Threads, then you don’t want them to include this feature.

  • No edit button. I don’t really care about this feature at all but many others do.

  • No GIF button. Really? I have to save gifs to my photo library. No thanks.

  • No desktop app. This hurts for a variety of reasons (mainly for older folks?) but some cannot access through a cellular device at work or who want to post charts.

The Ugly:

  • No chronological timeline. The feed is an absolute disaster filled with celebrities and brands being paid to promote the app. The timeline is almost unusable at this point. I’ve already had to mute/block hundreds of accounts just to try to clean up the feed to even make it somewhat usable. Many users will just want to see what the people they follow have to say. I don’t need and will never need some celebrity’s out of touch with reality point of view. The app is dry at best and incredibly boring. Every post feels fake, forced, and cringe. No one is really this happy, and Twitter isn’t really that bad. The media has portrayed this as the devil and angel on the shoulder.

  • Let it be known that this app will not continue to be this way in its current form. They will eventually plaster it with ads on every 4th post on the feed just like the others did and it will likely become unusable to a point of exhaustion like Instagram.

  • When downloading the app, it lists 14 categories of data that “may be collected and linked to your identity.” Some (most) of you may not care anymore. I don’t really know if I do either. My Google search history alone will never allow me to run for President. This is one of the main selling points of the decentralized clones and protecting your data and privacy. Zuck doesn’t have a great track record with that and there’s no reason to assume this time is any different.

What Comes Next:

Everyone is competing for your attention. Hell, even reading this newsletter that occasionally gets pushed to your inbox is competing for your attention.

I will continue to explore Threads as I do believe there is a first-mover advantage right now even though the ones who have already grown the most have successful Instagram accounts and are being cross-promoted on the “who to follow” explore page.

I have zero plans to ever leave Twitter as I’ve spent way too much time developing and curating lists and feeds and making a ton of connections that cannot just be replicated on another app. The funny thing is all of the people I follow on Threads are the exact same people I follow on Twitter. It’s the same but different.

I just want to live in a world where Twitter is great for everyone. Maybe that still happens and it coexists with the 57 other clones out there all vying for market share.

At the end of the day, Threads and all of the other clones will only be successful for the creators who can establish their own community silos and rebuild their social graphs which are likely just ported over from the already existing popular social media channels.

If Twitter wants to remain relevant in the clone wars then it really is going to have to provide some innovative features to keep their most valuable creators on the platform and not having them try to hedge their bets by reproducing content on other channels.

Twitter took a big step in the right direction yesterday as Elon finally came through on a promise he made back in February where creators would start collecting a cut of the ads that were placed in their feeds. Obviously there is a high bar for what it takes to achieve a payout and the policy seems a bit nebulous. Full disclosure: I haven’t received a notification of payment but I do believe I meet their criteria to be selected.

It will be interesting to see if people try to game the system now that people are getting paid to tweet. However, Elon did state that users will get demonetized if they start stealing content from others. You can pretty much bank on people coming up with the most cringe threads imaginable to try to drum up impressions.

To keep Twitter alive I think it all comes down to the community, the vibes, and the engagement. All three of which seem to have been tailing off for Twitter recently, or so many have said. I think it can co-exist with Threads and the other clones. It may just end up turning into specific silos of information like how we have different newspapers spitting out different points of views. And that’s perfectly fine. Every town square is different.

In the worst case scenario that Twitter folds, then I guess I’ll have to find another way to live out my fantasy life alter ego, hopefully not on Threads, maybe just in the real world town square LARPing as a boomer has-been.

Before wrapping up, I wanted to share Mike Solana’s recent post below. He echoes many of my criticisms, wants, and wishes, just much more eloquently.

*See important disclaimer