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How to create a $19 billion company on the Internet

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Step One: Start with a $44 billion company:

X, the company formerly known as Twitter, handed out stock grants to employees on Monday that showed it was worth about $19 billion, down about 55 percent from the $44 billion that Elon Musk paid to buy the firm a year ago, according to internal documents seen by The New York Times.

Mr. Musk paid $54.20 a share to buy Twitter just over a year ago. The tech billionaire has since said he overpaid for the social network. In March, he wrote in an email to workers that he believed the company was worth $20 billion, calling it “an inverse start-up.”

“An inverse start-up” — I guess that means Twitter’s audience is growing more selective.

In his year of owning Twitter, Mr. Musk has overhauled the company and the social media platform. More than 80 percent of its 7,500 employees have either quit or been laid off. He has changed the service’s verification process, as well as content-moderation rules. Advertising, the company’s main source of revenue, was down in the United States by almost 60 percent this summer. Mr. Musk also loaded the company with billions of dollars in debt to help pay for the acquisition.

In November, he famously made a joke about spending to buy a social media company, asking, “How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one.”

Hey, man, you don’t talk to the Elon Musk. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll, uh, well, you’ll say hello to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you, and he won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say do you know that if is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you — I mean I’m no, I can’t — I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s, he’s a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas — I mean . . .

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