Tech billionaire Elon Musk made headlines last year for buying Twitter at $44 billion.
Just a few weeks later, Musk told a Delaware court that he does not want to be the CEO of any company. Then, he tweeted in December, “I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job.” In February, he told a conference he anticipated finding a CEO for Twitter “probably toward the end of this year.”
However, Musk announced his successor on Friday, long ahead of his anticipated schedule.
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Musk has confirmed that the new CEO for Twitter, or X Corp. as it’s now called, will be NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino, an executive with deep ties to the advertising industry.
“I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk wrote in a Friday tweet. He also said, “She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
Still, Musk will remain at Twitter.
He said that Yaccarino “will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.”
“My role will transition to being exec chair & CTO, overseeing product, software & sysops,” Musk tweeted.
Yaccarino has worked at NBCUniversal for nearly 12 years — with her team generating more than $100 billion in ad sales since 2011, her company bio notes. According to LinkedIn, Yaccarino previously served as NBC’s chair for advertising and client partnerships and as president of cable entertainment and digital advertising sales. Prior to her time with NBC, Yaccarino worked at global entertainment company Turner for almost two decades.
Yaccarino interviewed Musk on a Miami stage last month in front of hundreds of advertisers.
Luring advertisers is critical for Musk and Twitter. Many advertisers fled in the early months after his takeover of the social media platform. Musk said in late April that advertisers had returned, but provided no details.
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Yaccarino could help restore advertisers’ faith in Twitter, ad agency DiGo founder and creative chief Mark DiMassimo said. He noted that Yaccarino successfully integrated and digitized ad sales at Comcast and NBC — and that her track record of cross-selling ads across different platforms could appeal to Musk as he tries to transform Twitter from a social media company to a bigger media platform.
“If anyone can translate the Musk vision into advantages for marketers she’ll be able to do it,” DiMassimo said. “Even though there’s skepticism and all marketers live in the ‘show me’ state right now with regard to Twitter, if in fact she does go to Twitter this is a powerfully reassuring move.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has been predicting Twitter’s demise. In a tweet, the congresswoman warned about the possibility of Twitter permanently losing too many advertisers and, thus, becoming captive to a small, unrepresentative set of advertisers choosing to remain.
In other words, Ocasio-Cortez went on Twitter… to predict the end of Twitter.
Take a look —
Like I said last week:
Twitter, brought to you by MyPillow (and only MyPillow) https://t.co/1oCRYrV95w
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 9, 2023
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 said in a tweet Thursday that his role will transition to being Twitter’s executive chairman and chief technology officer.
Analysts who follow Twitter’s business welcomed the news even without knowing who the replacement will be. Twitter’s advertising business has taken a hit under Musk’s mercurial rule, though the billionaire told BBC last month that the company is now “roughly” breaking even.
Shares of Tesla rose about 2% Thursday after Musk made the announcement. Shareholders of the electric car company have been concerned about how much of his attention is being spent on Twitter.
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Last November, Musk was questioned in court about how he splits his time among Tesla and his other companies, including SpaceX and Twitter. Musk had to testify in the trial in Delaware’s Court of Chancery over a shareholder’s challenge to his potentially $55 billion compensation plan as CEO of the electric car company.
Musk said he never intended to be CEO of Tesla, and that he didn’t want to be chief executive of any other companies either, preferring to see himself as an engineer. Musk also said at the time that he expected an organizational restructuring of Twitter.
Musk’s tenure at Twitter’s helm has been chaotic, and he’s made various promises and proclamations he’s backtracked or never followed up on. He began his first day firing the company’s top executives, followed by roughly 80% of its staff. He’s upended the platform’s verification system and has scaled back content moderation and safeguards against the spread of misinformation.
Bantering with Twitter followers late last year, Musk expressed pessimism about the prospects for a new CEO, saying that person “must like pain a lot” to run a company that “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy.”
“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted at the time.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.