Elon Musk, who changed his name on Twitter to “Chief Tweet,” announced late Thursday that “the bird has been released” as he took control on the social media platform. The question now is whether the billionaire CEO of Tesla can grow his business while fulfilling his promise to make it a bastion of free speech.

Balancing those goals will present an “Everest-like battle,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told CBS MoneyWatch, noting that he gives Musk “less than a 50% chance of really turning this around.”

Musk offered a number of statements, some seemingly contradictory, about his vision for Twitter, while sharing few specific plans. But some of its challenges are clear, analysts say.

First, Musk paid a hefty premium to buy Twitter for $44 billion, which will put pressure on him to cut costs. Second, Twitter is struggling to attract advertisers, which is unlikely to get any easier as the economy slows and likely enters a recession next year.

“He’s buying this asset at the worst possible time,” Ives said. “We’re in the middle of a huge social media slowdown.”

He added: “The easy part is buying Twitter – the hard part is fixing it.”

Meanwhile, the New York Stock Exchange began the process on Friday to delist Twitter, meaning much of Musk’s actions will not be transparent to investors and observers. And without a stock price and big institutional investors to answer to, Musk may feel emboldened to put his stamp on the company, Eric Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan. published of the Conversation.

Here are three issues Musk faces when he takes the helm at Twitter.

Earning advertisers

Musk has criticized Twitter’s reliance on advertisers, but made a statement on Thursday that appeared to be aimed at allaying their fears. He assured marketers that he wants the service to be “the most respected advertising platform in the world.”

But the announcement was sharply delayed on Twitter, with the company blaming the “macro environment” amid uncertainty surrounding the Musk acquisition. Ad sales rose 2% in the second quarter, a notable decline from the 23% jump in ad revenue in the first quarter.

Much depends on whether Musk can not only keep current advertisers, but also convince new ones to sign up for the platform: About 90% of the service’s revenue comes from advertising.

Opening the floodgates of free speech

Musk said he wants to promote free speech by loosening the way Twitter moderates content. Wall Street analysts say that risks unleashing a wave of online toxicity that turns off consumers and advertisers.

Musk said Thursday that he doesn’t want Twitter to become a “free-for-all hellscape.” But before that, he signaled that he might reinstate the accounts of some former Twitter users who were banned for violating the company’s standards and policies. On Thursday, a conservative commentator tweeted at Musk that he was “still Shadowbanned, ghostbanned, searchbanned and Twitter removed 1,200 followers today – as usual.”

On Friday, Musk said Twitter would form what he called a “content moderation board with many different perspectives,” adding that no one whose account was banned would be reinstated before that group had a chance to to meet

It remains unclear whether former President Donald Trump will return to office, something Musk has said would allow if he bought Twitter. Trump was permanently banned from the social media site three days after January 6 Attack on the Capitol because of the “risk of further incitement to violence”.

Musk may see Trump’s return to Twitter as a way to increase engagement with other users, Ives said. But he will be walking a “political tightrope” in doing so, he added.

For his part, Trump said Friday in a post at Truth Social, the conservative social network backed by his media company, he’s “very happy that Twitter is now in good hands and no longer run by radical leftist lunatics and maniacs who really hate our country.” Twitter must now be working hard to get rid of all the bots and fake accounts that have hurt it so badly. It will be much smaller, but better.”

Mass layoffs coming?

Even though Twitter is going private, Musk has overpaid for the loss-making business, which will put pressure on him to streamline it, Ives said. Musk said Twitter has more employees than it needs, recently with the Washington Post reporting that it could cut up to 75% of the workforce.

Ives estimates that job cuts could range from 30% to 50% of the company’s staff. Still, while Musk can cut costs, “he can’t cut his way to growth,” he added.

After taking control of Twitter, Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal and general counsel Vijaya Gade, according to the Associated Press, citing people familiar with the deal. Segal confirmed his departure in a series of tweets on Friday.

Musk will likely hire an experienced social media executive to take the helm at Twitter, though he will remain deeply involved with the company, Ives predicted. “With Musk, I never count it out,” he said. “He’s been able to defy the naysayers time and time again.”

— With a report from the Associated Press.