Elon Musk promised he would hire a Twitter CEO to replace himself and today he kept his promise. Musk announced that Linda Yaccarino, up until recently the advertising chief for NBCUniversal and a longtime heavyweight in the advertising industry, is the new Twitter CEO.
“I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new C.E.O. of Twitter,” Mr. Musk tweeted. He said she would mainly handle business operations while he would continue to work on product design and technology.
I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!
@LindaYacc will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.
Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app. https://t.co/TiSJtTWuky
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2023
Musk could have hired an executive with social media know but instead chose someone with decades of experience at the top of the advertising industry. The selection of Yaccarino, 60, as CEO was immediately seen as a strong indication that Musk is prioritizing Twitter’s advertising business, which continues to be the chief source of revenue for the company despite taking many hits from big name advertisers spooked by Musk’s mercurial management and embrace of right wing ideology.
“Linda’s a force,” said Joe Marchese, the former head of ad sales at Fox Networks Group, told the New York Times. “She has one of the biggest jobs in advertising, and the ad market is as hard as it’s ever been.”
Yaccarino spent 11 years with NBC Universal, rising to chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCU. She resigned from that job shortly before Musk announced her hiring.
“It has been an absolute honor to be part of Comcast NBCUniversal and lead the most incredible team,” Yaccarino said in a statement. “We’ve transformed our company and the entire industry.”
Twitter’s advertising setbacks will be just one of the challenges facing Yaccarino. Musk has reduced staff at Twitter by 75%, cuts that essentially removed its content moderation capabilities and even at one point raised questions about its technical ability to stay online reliable. The pressure to drive revenue is expected to be intense, as Twitter services $13 billion debt taken on to fund Musk take over of the company.
Last, but far from least, is working for Musk, who regardless of whom holds what title remains the boss. Musk is well known for firing executives who fail to meet the goals he sets and is equally well known for impulsive moves and public announcements. Musk is known for his vast number of fans, but his transformation of Twitter under his ownership has motivated fierce critics.
“Make no mistake: Elon Musk may be giving someone else the CEO title but he’s still retaining ultimate control of Twitter as executive chair and head of product,” said Jessica J. González, co-CEO of the media advocacy organization Free Press. “Cleaning up Twitter requires reversing Musk’s dangerous policy decisions, reinvesting in content moderation and enforcement, and restructuring the platform’s governance. Musk is setting future CEO Linda Yaccarino up to fail — as long as he continues to make the platform toxic, it will be impossible to lure back advertisers and users.”
Lou Paskalis, a longtime advertising executive and a friend of Ms. Yaccarino, questioned why she would expose herself to potential reputational risks, considering her esteemed status in the industry as one of the most respected revenue-side professionals. Paskalis expressed concern that if she were to fail in her role, Twitter’s future as an ad-supported platform could be in jeopardy.
“With her stature in the industry as probably one of the most beloved and trusted people on the revenue side, I question why she would subject herself to that kind of potential reputational risk,” he was quoted saying. “If she fails in the role, then there’s probably no way that Twitter will survive as an ad-supported platform.”
New Twitter CEO might boost Tesla
Musk, depending up the observer’s point of view, is seen as either a mastermind for running his many, entirely different, businesses himself, or as misguided for trying. His involvement with Twitter has hurt at least the stock price of Tesla from the beginning. Tesla shares closed at $333 on April 14, 2022, the day Musk made his first bid for Twitter. Tesla stock has lost nearly half of its value since then, in no small part because Musk has sold off shares to pay for the $44 billion purchase, which closed in October. Wall Street watchers have stayed focused on the “Twitter overhang” weighing down Tesla’s stock ever since.
“Musk’s reign as CEO of Twitter has finally come to an end and thus will be a positive for Tesla’s stock starting to finally remove this lingering albatross from the story,” Wedbush securities managing director Dan Ives wrote in a note to clients on Friday morning. “We believe this adds roughly $15 per share to the Tesla story as the Musk CEO overhang is now gone for Twitter.”