What is Elon Musk’s X, the ‘everything app?’

With successes such as SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk is perhaps the most versatile entrepreneur of today’s generation. With the “everything app,” he is drawing inspiration from the super apps of the East, namely WeChat, Grab and Gojek. These apps have had tremendous success in East and South East Asia by bringing together payments, lifestyle and social media use cases.

The everything app may have grabbed headlines more recently, but, the seed for the app might have been sown as early as 1999 when Musk was planning to launch a financial services company called Project X. He eventually ended up creating PayPal by merging the concept of Project X with Confinity.

Musk recently brought back Project X as a concept and refreshed his domain x.com, which he had initially acquired decades ago. On July 12, 2023, Musk also announced his artificial intelligence (AI) project, xAI, whose mission is to “understand the true nature of the universe” and promised to reveal more information about the initiative in the future. He had brought together several AI leaders to help him with xAI. 

In the meantime, he had also indicated in a recent tweet that Project X was the everything app. He revealed that it would be a decentralized open-source project and, in essence, censorship-resistant. Musk might have some ideas about tapping into Dogecoin (DOGE) for this initiative, but there has been no confirmed evidence of that.

In parallel to these developments, Musk has also rebranded Twitter to X and incorporated X Inc. Twitter can be the distribution channel to turbocharge a super app experience. It also has the data to create and train an AI engine. The potential that would get unlocked between these capabilities could be a super app of a generation. As a result, Musk describes that X represents “the unknown, the potential, the possibility.”

What are the possible use cases of the everything app?

The everything app — aka Project X — seems to be a major undertaking with the potential to revolutionize the way we use mobile apps. Here are some of the possible use cases that the everything app might offer:

Within a super app construct, the possibilities are endless. The everything app could be the ultimate mobile platform, providing users with everything they need in one place. It is precisely the experience WeChat offers to its customers in China and a few other parts of Asia.

Twitter reported over 368 million users on the platform in 2022. This user base would be fundamental to hitting the growth trajectory for the everything app. But that is not all — the everything app is just the feature list of what the user base can get from this initiative. The intelligence that would drive this feature list would perhaps sit within the xAI initiative.

What is xAI, and what are its synergies with the everything app?

A report of the AI startup that Musk co-founded along with AI industry veterans from OpenAI, DeepMind, Microsoft, Tesla and Twitter came out in April 2023. Musk had secured a number of graphics processing units (GPUs) from Nvidia for this grand experiment.

In April 2023, Musk also announced that he was building TruthGPT as part of this initiative to combat existing AI firms that were taking a politically correct approach. Greg Yang, co-founder of xAI, highlighted that the firm’s focus was to develop the “theory of everything for large neural networks.”

However, Musk had declared that xAI and X Corp (renamed Twitter entity) would be separate companies and that they would tap into each other to build toward their vision. From everything that has panned out over the last couple of quarters in 2023, it can be surmised that xAI would be the intelligence engine behind the everything app. Twitter’s user base will fuel the everything app and its data “could” fuel xAI.

What are the risks involved with the xAI and the everything app?

Twitter and other social media giants have historically come under regulatory scrutiny for various data privacy and data protection breaches. Particularly in Europe, where data regulations are stricter than in other parts of the world, AI firms have had a challenging time with regulators. 

Tapping into user data to create an AI engine that would further inform the build-out of a super app and its marketplace could be yet another risky setup. It may not go unnoticed by regulators, who have already had a difficult time regulating AI offerings from firms like OpenAI. 

The future of X and the everything app

Musk wants to add a wide variety of features to include in one application. WeChat offers a successful example of such an approach, but X may encounter many difficulties.

Even if the app is successful in improving its functioning, many users have already lost hope in the platform, primarily because verification is available without having to earn it. Additionally, TikTok has entered the fray by adding text posts, and Meta has also launched the Threads service. Therefore, the survival of X remains uncertain and a subject of speculation.

Written by Arunkumar Krishnakumar