Elon Musk’s search for a Twitter CEO is over and reports say Linda Yaccarino is in talks to replace him as chief—she is a seasoned ad executive whose arrival would likely soothe skittish advertisers following months of drastic overhauls to content moderation and verification, but whose background may alienate some of the billionaire’s loyal and free speech-loving fan base.
Yaccarino, who has spent more than a ten-year career at NBCUniversal and managed a global staff of 2,000 employees that generated over $100 billion worth of ad revenues according to her profile for the company.
Yaccarino and her team were instrumental in the launch of Peacock—NBCU’s ad-supported streaming platform—and have embraced new ways of measuring advertising performance, as well as forging partnerships with the likes of Apple News, Buzzfeed, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter, her profile said.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Yaccarino is also involved with the World Economic Forum, WEF, where she chairs the organization’s taskforce on the future of work and sits on the media, entertainment and culture industry governors steering committee.
The agenda-setting convener of industry, political and civic leaders, perhaps best known for its annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, has long been a lightning rod for baseless conspiracy theories and Yaccarino’s connection appears to irk some of Musk’s right-leaning or anarchist base, who suggest her background undermines the platform’s commitment to free speech championed under current leadership.
Yaccarino has also partnered with government on several occasions, first helping to promote healthy lifestyles as a member of the President’s Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition, appointed by former President Donald Trump, and later working with government agencies, the White House and Pope Francis to produce a Covid-19 vaccination campaign in her role as chair of nonprofit advertising group the Ad Council.
The executive’s connection to a pandemic-era vaccination campaign has also bothered proponents of Twitter’s more liberal content moderation policies, many of whom fear Yaccarino could bring back the stricter bars for misinformation that they struggled to clear before Musk did away with them.
What We Don’t Know
It is not certain Yaccarino will be Twitter’s next CEO. While there are multiple reports that indicate she is in the running for Twitter’s CEO, Yaccarino and Twitter have not confirmed these reports. While multiple reports suggest she is definitely in the running, neither Yaccarino nor Twitter have confirmed or commented on speculation. Wall Street Journal first reported Yaccarino was “in talks to become the new CEO,” citing people familiar with the situation. On Friday, The Financial Times Axios, also citing an anonymous source, reported similar information, after citing two sources. The Verge’s Alex Heath said he knows “Yaccarino has been angling for the job and telling friends she wants it.” He suggested Musk stayed mum on the name due to the “unfortunate timing on Yaccarino’s end,” with NBCUniversal’s annual pitch event for advertisers scheduled for Monday.
Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022 and his tenure at the company’s helm can generously be described as turbulent. Musk took the role of CEO as soon as his tenure began and fired senior management, including former CEO Parag Aggrawal. He has drastically cut headcount—it has reportedly dropped by around 80% to 90% of its former level—and overhauled content moderation to favor a more absolutist approach to free speech, a move that irked companies, advertisers and high profile users. Musk often used polls in making important decisions during his early Twitter tenure. Following a poll in December, which narrowly suggested that he step down from the CEO position, Musk announced he’d be looking to replace him. On Thursday, Musk tweeted he was “Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO,” though he did not name his successor. He said his successor—partially identified with the pronoun “she”—would start in around six weeks.
What To Look Out For
Twitter’s new CEO comes at a time of change for Twitter, following months of drastic remodeling by Musk, a great deal of which soured the attitudes of users and advertisers alike. The key to regaining advertisers’ trust is to regain their confidence after Musk reduced content moderation. Many of them cut back or stopped spending money on Twitter. Musk has said that he is under pressure from Tesla shareholders to pull out of Twitter after the Twitter deal. Tesla shares are down since then. Musk’s role as CEO will change to executive chair. It’s not clear whether Yaccarino, or whoever succeeds Musk, will retain Musk’s controversial changes, particularly regarding content moderation, or will move back toward the platform’s former policies.
$179.5 billion. That’s Musk’s estimated net worth, according to SME’Real time tracker Second richest man in the world behind French luxury products magnate Bernard Arnault, and before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Large portions of Musk’s wealth is tied to Tesla, which he cofounded and leads, though a notable portion of his Tesla stock has been pledged as collateral for loans. Also, he cofounded SpaceX rockets, Boring Company tunneling startups and Neuralink neural interface firms.
Twitter CEO Search: NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino In Talks To Take Over For Elon Musk, Report Says (SME)
NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino Is in Talks to Become Twitter CEO (WSJ)