New Twitter owner Elon Musk has signalled a potential interest in reviving Vine, the social video app Twitter gave up on six years ago.
In the last few hours the self styled “Chief Twit”) has tweeted a yes/no poll to his 112.4 million followers — pithily positing: “Bring back Vine?”.
The question — whether serious product idea or another Elon flight of fancy/’trollercoaster’ tweet — quickly drew millions of votes (most in favor) and thousands of responding tweets. This engagement in turn garnered a bit of additional attention from Musk who responded to some of his followers’ questions/suggestions on the social video topic.
In response to a tweet from YouTuber, Mr Beast — which jokily referenced TikTok — Musk struck a serious tone, asking: “What could we do to make it better than TikTok?”
He also took the time to publicly agree with another Twitter user — who had chimed in to opine that “video shouldn’t be a separate app” but should rather be “within Twitter”. That observation earned the ‘Tesla Owners Silicon Valley’ account an ‘100’ emoji reply from Musk, to signal (apparent) total approval of the idea that any Vine/video revival should be a feature inside Twitter, not a standalone product.
So make of that what you will.
The Vine revival poll (plus Musk’s wider engagement to the chatter it generated) could imply his attention to the topic of video is, at least, genuine — although it’s anyone’s guess whether a Vine reboot is actually being seriously considered, or what that would even mean beyond reviving a brand name if his plan would include a major feature set makeover. (Twitter’s press team did not respond to requests for comment.)
It’s equally plausible Musk is doing the equivalent of throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing which/if bits stick. Or he’s just bored in the small hours and thought he’d bounce another shower thought off-of his fanbase. And/or fancied indulging in a spot of ‘lazy web’ brainstorming outsourcing.
As ever where Elon is concerned, the usual caveats apply.
Still, Vine’s demise was a pretty self-defeating chapter in Twitter’s company history — so a reboot could offer Musk the chance to rewrite that particular bit of the script and claim incoming hero status with former Vine fans.
At the time of writing, more than 2.8M votes had been cast in Musk’s poll about bringing back Vine, with a strong majority (69.4%) voting for a return — although the poll still has 14 hours left to run.
Twitter acquired the short form video platform Twitter back in 2013. But, in typical clown car fashion, the company ended up squandering the opportunity to build the fledgling social video platform into a TikTok-style juggernaut, after then-CEO Jack Dorsey opted to ditch the app a few short years later.
The shuttering of Vine earned Twitter the baldest of subtweets from Vine’s founder, Rus Yusupov — who had this straight-up warning to other entrepreneurs at the time: “Don’t sell your company!”
Ironically enough (given it’s *Twitter* that’s now been sold), Yusupov has chipped into the Musk-initiated chatter around reviving Vine — offering up the (non-serious?) suggestion that Vine should have “69 second videos”.
While Vine launched with hyper short videos (of up to 6 seconds), the max upload length was later expanded to 140 seconds — and social video behemoth TikTok has gone way beyond that and even began letting its users upload videos of up to 10mins long earlier this year — so 69 second videos is probably just an attempt to grab Musk’s attention (with a puerile joke), not a serious product suggestion.
Regardless, the interaction does indicate that Yusupov is watching what’s unfolding at Twitter with interest.
And that’s relevant because this is also not his first foray into tweeting at Musk about Vine: His public timeline remains topped with an earlier tweet — from April 25 — when he posted a photo of himself with the (then) would-be Twitter owner, asking Musk a (rhetorical?) question: “Hey @elonmusk was this meeting about saving Vine? I forget… ”
Public response from Musk to that tweet there came none. But the Chief Twit is king of keeping everyone else guessing over what he’s actually going to do next — so, again, you can’t read much/anything into his public silence back then. (Musk did also try to wiggle out of buying Twitter entirely prior to agreeing to closing the deal last week; ergo, there have been a fair few cycles of ups and downs even just over these past few months.)
If Yusupov and Musk have been talking about a Vine reboot, the former’s response to another Twitter user’s question last month — when author Eli Pariser asked the Twitterverse for “the smart take on why Vine died even though it was basically TikTok” — might offer a few clues about what any discussions might have focused on.
The Vine founder responded to Pariser by lamenting over not having built the right features “in time” — likely linked to another blindspot he conceded around not understanding the importance of building on trends like lip-sync video — as well as blaming the app’s demise on a failure to help creators monetize.