SAN FRANCISCO -- In a radical rebranding, Twitter owner Elon Musk has replaced Twitter's iconic bird logo with X.
Musk made the shock announcement of his plans early Sunday. By Monday morning U.S. time, he tweeted that X.com now points to Twitter.com.
"Interim X logo goes live later today," he wrote, shortly before sharing a photo of Twitter's headquarters lit up by a giant new X.
The Twitter website now features the same logo, while the familiar blue bird is gone.
Previously, Musk said he was bidding "adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds."
SpaceX, the Model X, X Corp, X.com, which eventually turned into Paypal, and a son - whose actual name is a collection of letters and symbols - called "X." It seems Musk's fascination for the letter 'X' is spot on for Twitter's overnight logo change.
"X can be so many things. X in science means, 'The unknown,'" San Jose State University engineering professor and tech expert Ahmed Banafa told ABC7 News. "That's what it means when you talk about math, when we talk about science. And for him, it's clear that and now he would like to have it as the target for the main thing for him to put everything under that X. And he started with Twitter."
Prof. Banafa said doing away with the popular blue bird now signals a step forward for Musk's super app, much like WeChat.
Musk's appointed CEO Linda Yaccarino wrote on her Twitter account that X would be, "The future state of unlimited interactivity - centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking - creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities."
However, Banafa is raising questions about what mass staffing cuts could mean for cybersecurity.
"If you have a skeleton crew, like what we have now at Twitter, how are we going to guarantee that people are going to use it like WeChat, if you have only 25% of the staff," he told ABC7 News. "That's raised a lot of questions about the security. I, personally, I'm not gonna use it for anything other than just getting the news. I'm not gonna use it for payments or anything else."
Video shows the exterior of the San Francisco headquarters on Sunday night with a large "X" displayed on the side of the building.
Right now, the URL X.com will take you to Twitter.
Critics anticipate it will be "very confusing" to Twitter's audience because the company has already seen several other major moves in less than a year.
"This is his eighth month and look what kind of changes we have seen and Twitter," Banafa shared. "And they're not good changes."
Twitter (TWTR), founded in 2006, has used its vivid, globally recognized blue bird emblem for more than a decade.
The renaming could be seen as something of a brand overhaul "Hail Mary" for the company: Musk in recent months has repeatedly warned that Twitter, facing steep losses in ad revenue, was on the edge of bankruptcy.
Increasing the pressure, earlier this month rival social media platform Threads launched from Facebook (FB) parent Meta. It surpassed 100 million user sign-ups in its first week.
Twitter had 238 million active users prior to being taken private by Musk in October 2022.
Spats, mass layoffs
One of the world's richest men, Musk was once best known for his innovative efforts through companies SpaceX and Tesla (TSLA) to launch rockets and build electric cars.
Now, many of the headlines he makes are for his eccentric remarks on his personal Twitter account - often sharing conspiracy theories and getting into public spats on the social media platform.
Musk overhauled the site after acquiring it for $44 billion in late October, then followed with mass layoffs, disputes over millions of dollars allegedly owed in severance and Musk's note to employees that remaining at the company would mean "working long hours at high intensity." He wrote: "Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade."
The upheaval prompted organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, Free Press and GLAAD, to pressure brands to rethink advertising on Twitter.
The groups pointed to the mass layoffs as a key factor in their thinking, citing fears that Musk's cuts would make Twitter's election-integrity policies effectively unenforceable, even if they technically remain active.
Musk also began overseeing controversial policy changes which led to frequent service disruptions at Twitter and upended his own reputation in the process.
'A second chance'
In June, Musk named Linda Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal marketing executive, CEO of the company.
She commented on the name change on Twitter Sunday afternoon: "It's an exceptionally rare thing - in life or in business - that you get a second chance to make another big impression. Twitter made one massive impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go further, transforming the global town square."
As the new venture begins, it faces challenges. Musk recently disclosed that the platform still has a negative cash flow due to a 50% drop in advertising revenue and heavy debt loads.
Criticizing the exit, or pause, of such Twitter advertisers as General Mills (GIS), Macy's (M) and some car companies that compete with Tesla, Musk has called himself a "free speech absolutist" and said he wanted to buy Twitter to bolster users' ability to speak freely on the platform.
Musk explained his approach to free speech by saying: "Is someone you don't like allowed to say something you don't like? And if that is the case, then we have free speech."
He added that Twitter would "be very reluctant to delete things" and that the platform would aim to allow all legal speech. Many users have worried that could mean a rise in hate speech.
Meanwhile, the initial frenzy around rival Threads appears to have come back to earth, especially as it has been plagued with spam and lacks several user-friendly features Twitter, or, now X, offers.
Adam Mosseri, who is overseeing the Threads launch for Meta, has hinted at plans to add features such as a desktop version of the app, a feed of only accounts a user follows and an edit button.
Its ability to draw advertising support is, as yet, unproven.