Elon Musk has selected NBCUniversal’s chairman of global advertising and partnerships, Linda Yaccarino, to be the new CEO of Twitter, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations.
NBCU announced her departure from the company Friday morning. “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 — and I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished together.”
On Thursday, Musk said that he would step aside from the CEO role of the social media platform in a matter of weeks after having chosen his own replacement.
More on Linda Yaccarino, Musk's new pick for Twitter CEO
The announcement could launch a new chapter for the troubled company, which has laid off roughly three-quarters of its workers and has struggled in recent weeks with major changes to the platform and frequent outages. Adding to the pressure, Musk already runs several other companies, including Tesla, where investors have grown discontented with his distractions at Twitter.
Yaccarino in particular could serve to calm advertisers’ fears while balancing Musk’s demand for sweeping changes to Twitter’s policies on content moderation.
Musk said the new CEO would start in several weeks and that he would stay on as executive chairman and chief technology officer, running products, software and system operations — also prompting questions about whether his involvement there will significantly change. (Musk, who has adopted titles such a “Technoking” and “Chief Twit” respondedwith an eyes emoji to a tweet asking if the “T” in CTO stood for trolling, rather than technology.)
“Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter,” Musk posted Thursday. “She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
Musk and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Wall Street Journal and other outlets earlier Thursday reported that Yaccarino was in talks to take the job. Musk joined Yaccarino for an onstage interview last month at a marketing conference in Miami Beach. The keynote event was called: Twitter 2.0: From Conversations to Partnerships.
Yaccarino oversees about 2,000 workers in her role, according to her online bio for the network, about the same or slightly more than Twitter’s staff. At NBC, it said, her team oversees the monetization strategy for Peacock, the network’s streaming service. Her team has also generated more than $100 billion in ad sales and entered partnerships with companies including Apple, Snapchat, BuzzFeed, Twitter and YouTube, it said.
During her tenure, Yaccarino consolidated many of NBCUniversal’s individual marketing and sales teams — for Bravo TV, Peacock, USA, Syfy and other NBCU operating units — into one centralized marketing and sales structure for the company.
And she has worked closely with Twitter and other technology platforms, such as Snapchat, to deepen NBCU’s digital partnerships. Just last week, NBCU announced an expanded deal with Twitter for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, which includes a “Paris 25-Day Countdown” featuring daily athlete or event clips leading into the Opening Ceremonies, and real-time highlights and an exclusive live Twitter show during the Games.
By Thursday afternoon, investors, former employees and even some of those in Musk’s orbit were still in the dark about Musk’s pick. Questions swirled around whether he would appoint a tech insider with a focus on engineering, the moonshot bet on artificial intelligence or a more traditional business leader who could serve as the public face of the company, winning back the trust of advertisers and confidence of users.
“The commitment to open source transparency and accepting a wide range of viewpoints remains unchanged,” Musk wrote in a tweet reply, after many outlets had reported Yaccarino’s candidacy for the job.
Musk has faced criticism for his leadership of Twitter, which has ushered in sweeping job and budget cuts, transformative changes and erratic and unpredictable decision-making that has left advertisers fleeing. In an email to staff earlier this year, Musk valued the companyat $20 billion, less than half the $44 billion he paid to obtain it.
Musk bought Twitter last year on a promise to restore his vision of “free speech,” bringing back banned users such as former president Donald Trump and his favorite satire site the Babylon Bee. He leaned heavily into a subscription model aimed at generating revenue and eradicating what he decried as a “lords & peasants system” for verifying users with Twitter’s signature blue badges.
But Musk’s actions have also spooked advertisers and prompted backlash from users, including some in his corner. Soon after taking over Twitter, Musk tweeted a conspiracy theory about the attack on the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D), Paul Pelosi. And Musk’s changes to verification — awarding a blue check to users who paid $8 — resulted in a flood of impersonation attempts that eroded confidence in the site. After a fake account posing as pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly falsely announced insulin was free, Twitter likely lost millions as advertisers pulled back.
Last year, after making a controversial decision to limit users’ ability to promote outside social media websites — prompting massive backlash — Musk agreed to step down as Twitter CEO upon finding a person “foolish enough to take the job.”
In an unscientific December poll, Musk asked, “Should I step down as head of Twitter?”
“I will abide by the results of this poll,” he continued.
The poll amassed more than 17 million votes, with 57.5 percent of respondents calling for him to step aside.
In an interview with the BBC last month, Musk said he had fulfilled that pledge by appointing his dog Floki to the role.
“I said I would appoint a new CEO, and I did, and it’s my dog,” he said.
Earlier this year, Musk said he would probably need until the end of this year to find his replacement.
Tesla’s stock rose in after-hours trading following the news. Investors have hoped Musk would return to prioritizing Tesla, the electric car company where he also serves as CEO, and the key to his fortune.
Musk’s dueling roles have resulted in a frenetic schedule that leaves him bouncing from Austin, where he lives, to San Francisco, where Twitter is based — and where he has admitted to sleeping on a seventh floor couch. Tesla’s main factory is also in the Bay Area, in addition to its engineering headquarters. SpaceX, the rocket company Musk leads, has a major presence on Texas’ Gulf Coast, but is based in Southern California.
As a result, Musk spends significant time visiting the various locations from his private jet. Recently, after taking over Twitter, Musk has also been jetting to locations such as New York City and Washington, D.C., to meet with advertisers and government officials.
Even amid the criticism that he was stretched thin, Musk recently added a sixth company to his empire, X.AI, a firm that will focus on generative artificial intelligence, the field behind large-language model chatbots such as ChatGPT.
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