Meta cofounder, chair and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg staged a stunning knockout of Twitter owner Elon Musk this week as he launched Threads, a Twitter-like app for Instagram users. In turn, Musk threatened to sue.
Perhaps this is the cage fight they’ve been hyping.
There’s been no stopping Threads since going viral as it launched on July 5. Trending on Twitter and topping the free app charts on the App Store and Google Play, Threads has emerged as the most serious threat to the embattled social media platform among recent clones.
Zuckerberg has been chronicling the app’s dramatic ascent on his Threads page reporting 2 million sign ups in its first two hours, 5 million in four hours, 10 million in seven hours, 30 million by next morning, and 70 million by July 7.
By comparison, it took ChatGPT two months to hit 100 million users, when it became the fastest growing app in Internet history. At the current rate, Threads might soon surpass that.
Of course, Instagram has had a head start with more than two billion monthly active users being able to log into Threads upon download, and with the immediate porting of followers feeding its growth, it’s been able to take off exponentially.
Before Musk acquired it, Twitter was about a tenth of Instagram’s size. And that was before legacy verifications were removed and limits were slapped on tweets. Today many of Twitter’s top accounts have larger followings on Instagram including Cristiano Ronaldo with 595 million Instagram followers, nearly six times greater than his 108.8 million followers on Twitter, and Taylor Swift with 267 million Instagram followers, nearly triple her 93.3 million followers on Twitter. Although neither have joined Threads yet, the Kardashians have wasted no time. Khloe has already racked up 2 million followers on Threads, Khourtney 1.6 million, and Kim, who hasn’t posted anything yet, 3.3 million. Mr. Beast is at 3.4 million after offering to give away a Tesla to one of his new followers. The popular YouTuber is so enamored with the platform that he is referring to himself as the Future Threads CEO.
Who To Follow
As expected, many tech influencers were early to join and have been active on the platform, including YouTuber Marques Brownlee who has 20 million followers across social media. I spoke with him and AT&T’s chief technology officer Jeremy Legg on stage at the Collision tech conference in Toronto last week where we discussed AI, AR, EV, 5G and the future of everything — and no one saw this coming.
He posted, “The #1 thing Twitter has over BlueSky and Mastodon and all the other competitors is always the PEOPLE. That’s what will make Meta launching new their Twitter competitor “Threads” so interesting. Porting everyone’s handles over from Instagram means there are PEOPLE right away 👀 Should be interesting.”
And the conversations have been great.
I commented that “Threads will soon surpass Twitter” and Mashable founder Pete Cashmore gave a thoughtful response, saying “Twitter has 368M users. Threads will probably hit that number in a week or so. But then they’ll have to retain all those users.”
If engagement does fall off, that’s likely it for Twitter clones for awhile as platform fatigue has definitely set it. But the nice thing about being early to a new social network is the sense of community. With the weekend upon us, venture capitalist Carter Reum lovingly posted a photo of his wife, Paris Hilton, sitting on the floor of an airport bookstore, flipping through AI and leadership books. Kindred Ventures founder Steve Jang posted a photo of a Buddha sculpture watching a retro TV.
If you’re seeking a guide on who to follow, here is a just a small sample of who is on. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
Aaron Levie, @levie, Box cofounder
Adam Mosseri, @mosseri, Head of Instagram
Alex Heath, @alexheath, The Verge editor
Alex Kantrowitz, @alexkantrowitz, Big Technology podcaster, CNBC contributor
Alexis Ohanian, @alexisohanian, Reddit cofounder, venture capitalist
Amanda Bradford, @amandabradford, The League cofounder
Andrew Huberman, @hubermanlab, Stanford Neuroscience Professor
Andrew Ross Sorkin, @sorkinsays, CNBC anchor, Billions co-creator
Arianna Huffington, @arianahuff, Huffington Post and Thrive Global founder
Baratunde Thurston, @baratunde, futurist comedian
Ben Parr, @benparr, OctaneAI cofounder
Bill Gurley, @bgurley, Benchmark general partner
Bozoma. Saint John, @badassboz, “Netflix/Uber/Apple Hall of Fame marketer”
Brian Solis, @briansolis, OG futurist
Carter Reum, @carterreum_official, M13 venture capitalist + @parishilton
Casey Newton, @crumbler, Platformer
Chris Messina, @chris, hashtag inventor
Dave Morin, @davemorin, Offline Ventures cofounder with @britmorin
Ezra Klein, @ezraklein, Vox cofounder
Gary Vaynerchuk, @garyvee, early investor in Facebook, Twitter, Venmo
Garry Tan, @garrytan, Y Combinator CEO
George Hotz, @georgehotz, Comma.ai founder, former Twitter intern
Guy Kawasaki, @guykawasaki, Canva evangelist, Remarkable People podcaster
iJustine, @ijustine, OG tech influencer
Jay Yarow, @jyarow, CNBC executive editor
Jeff Bezos, @jeffbezos, Amazon and Blue Origin founder
Jeff Jarvis, @jeffjarvis, This Week in Google podcaster
Joanna Stern, @joannastern, WSJ tech columnist, CNBC contributor
Jon Steinberg, @jonsteinberg, Cheddar founder
Josh Constine, @joshsc, SignalFire investor, CNN contributor
Joshua Kushner, @joshuakushner, Thrive Capital founder
Kara Swisher, @karaswisher, Code conference cofounder, Succession podcaster
Kevin Roose, @kevinroose, New York Times tech columnist
Kevin Systrom, @kevin, Instagram cofounder
Lauren Goode, @laurengoode, Wired tech reporter
Lauren Sanchez, @laurenwsanchez, Black Ops Aviation founder, Bezos Earth Fund
Lex Fridman, @lexfridman, Lex Firdman podcaster, MIT research scientist
Mark Cuban, @mcuban, Shark Tank investor, NBA Dallas Mavericks owner
Mark Gurman, @markgurman, Bloomberg Apple reporter
Mark Pincus, @markpinc, Zynga and Reinvent Capital cofounder
Mark Suster, @msuster, Upfront Ventures managing partner
Mark Zuckerberg, @zuck, Meta cofounder
Martine Paris, @martinepics, tech and trending reporter
Mike Isaac, @mike_isaac, New York Times tech reporter, “Superpumped” author
M.G. Siegler, @mgsiegler, Google Ventures general partner
Mr. Beast, @mrbeast, YouTuber and self-proclaimed future Threads CEO
Nick Bilton, @nickbilton, Vanity Fair correspondent
Nilay Patel, @reckless1280, The Verge editor-in-chief
Patrick Collison, @patrickcollison, Stripe cofounder and CEO
Paul Krugman, @paulkrugman7, New York Times columnist, Nobel economist
Pete Cashmore, @petecashmore, Mashable founder
Reid Hoffman, @reidhoffman, Inflection AI, LinkedIn and OpenAI cofounder
Richard Branson, @richardbranson, Virgin founder
Sal Rodriguez, @salrodriguez, WSJ tech reporter
Scott Budman, @scottbudman, NBC Bay Area tech reporter
Steve Jang, @stevejang, Kindred Ventures partner
Taylor Lorenz, @taylorlorenz, Washington Post columnist
Tobi Lutke, @tobi, Shopify cofounder
William Shatner, @williamshatner, OG Star Trek
Yann LeCun, @yannlecun, Meta Chief AI Scientist
Robert Scoble, @scobleizer, OG tech influencer