Twitter Wants to Bring Tipping to the Platform

Twitter Wants to Bring Tipping to the Platform
Photo: Denis Charlet, Getty Images

Pretty soon, you might be able to tip your favourite tweeters. Why you’d want to is anyone’s best guess.

On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hinted that this fan-funded model is just one of the potential forms of digital payment that Twitter will be bringing on in the near future. The idea here, at least in theory, makes sense: Twitter is loaded with plenty of hardcore fans of all stripes: there’s armies of Swifties, Barbz, and whatever the hell Elon Musk’s rabid fanbase calls themselves. Some of these people are bound to pay for exclusive access to their celeb of choice.

“I think the first thing we want to focus on is that economic incentive to people who are contributing to Twitter,” Dorsey told the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. He added that whatever funding model the company eventually goes with, it won’t function alone — these payments would somehow integrate with some of the new features that Twitter’s testing out like Fleets or Spaces.

Dorsey didn’t go into specifics about what these new subscriptions might look like. In a statement to Gizmodo, a Twitter spokesperson simply said that while the company is “excited about this potential,” it’s also “ important to note we are still in very early exploration and we do not expect any meaningful revenue attributable to these opportunities in 2021.”

“Our main focus continues to be on growing our ads business,” they added.

These potential monetary features are Twitter’s latest attempt to diversify its cash flow into something that isn’t exclusively ad-based. While the Twitter spokesperson added that the company’s “main focus” continues to be its ad business, that business has encountered a few hiccups as of late. Midway through 2020, for example, the company’s ad revenue plummeted partially due to the global pandemic, and partially due to major brands pausing their Twitter ads for one reason or another. In practice, this has translated to Twitter cribbing some from existing platforms, or — like its forthcoming Substack competitor, Revue — simply buying out smaller companies in an attempt to integrate their features onto Twitter.