On Friday, Elon Musk, Tesla SpaceX, announced that he had selected Linda Yaccarino, a seasoned media executive, as the new CEO of Twitter, fulfilling a promise he made to step back from the role. In a tweet, Musk expressed his excitement about the appointment and indicated that Yaccarino would primarily oversee business operations while he focused on product design and new technology. The CEO’s appointment news came on the same day that Yaccarino announced her departure from NBCUniversal, where she had served as the Chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships.
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
Yaccarino expressed her gratitude towards Comcast NBCUniversal on Friday as she announced her departure. She described her team as incredible and highlighted their transformative work within the industry. Taking on the CEO role of Twitter, Yaccarino will inherit a range of challenges that have accumulated during Musk’s tenure, such as advertiser departures, service disruptions, regulatory scrutiny, and increased competition.
As previously announced, Musk will serve as the executive chairman and CTO and remains the platform’s owner. Although he will step back from the CEO role, Musk is expected to maintain substantial control over the company’s future direction. On the other hand, Musk’s controversial policies and statements have estranged some longtime Twitter users.
In a move to revive Twitter’s fortunes, Elon Musk has announced that Linda Yaccarino, the former head of advertising at NBCUniversal, will be taking on the CEO role at the social media company.#TwitterCEO #Twitter #Elon_Musk #LindaYacarino #Yaccarino #TwitterCEOYaccarino #Musk pic.twitter.com/LI6wMBT9jc
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) May 13, 2023
Yaccarino – A Seasoned Media Executive
Although Elon Musk has been critical of mainstream media and advertising in the past, Linda Yaccarino’s background represents both worlds. With over 11 years at NBCUniversal, she has returned to the company where she began her career as a college intern. Before that, she was COO of Advertising Sales, Marketing, Executive Vice President, and Acquisitions at Turner Broadcasting, including CNN.
At NBCUniversal, Yaccarino leads a global team of 2,000 employees, as noted on her company profile. This team is larger than the current number of Twitter employees, which Musk stated in a recent BBC interview has been reduced to 1500 following several rounds of layoffs during his tenure. Yaccarino’s leadership of NBCUniversal’s ad sales team has been highly successful., generating $100 billion in ad sales since her appointment in 2011, according to her profile.
Yaccarino’s most notable achievement at NBCUniversal has been her creation of unified ad sales teams, which replaced the previous approach of having 15 different sales teams approach the same advertisers. She has also spearheaded strategic partnerships with numerous new media companies like Twitter, Apple News, Buzzfeed, Snapchat, and YouTube. In a recent industry conference, Yaccarino and Musk presented a joint session called “Twitter 2.0: From Conversations to Partnerships.”
NBCUniversal’s loss of Yaccarino comes at an inopportune time for the company. Ad revenues have declined across the media industry, resulting in cost-cutting measures and layoffs at many companies. Although NBCUniversal has also undergone some job cuts, they have not been as extensive as some competitors. As part of their efforts to secure advertising commitments for the latter part of the year, media companies, including NBC, are scheduled to deliver “upfront” presentations to advertisers next week. NBC’s session is slated for Monday morning.
Women in Leadership Roles at Musk’s Companies
It’s not unprecedented for a woman to lead one of Elon Musk’s companies. Gwynne Shotwell, for example, serves as president and COO of SpaceX. Although Musk holds the CEO title, some credited Shotwell as a key factor in SpaceX becoming the world’s most successful commercial rocket company. Meanwhile, Robyn Denholm serves as chairman of Tesla, a role she assumed after the SEC required Musk to step down when he tweeted that he had secured funding to bring the firm private, a claim he had not yet substantiated. While Denholm has maintained a low profile at Tesla and did not speak at a recent investor day, 15 other Tesla executives, including Musk, did present.
Linda Yaccarino’s Appointment Could Address Twitter’s Advertiser Exodus
The appointment of Yaccarino as the new CEO could be seen as Musk acknowledging the boundaries of his efforts to make Twitter less dependent on advertising. Twitter has faced an exodus since Musk purchased the company in October, with many advertisers leaving the platform. Before Musk’s purchase, ad sales represented over 90% of the company’s revenue. However, since then, 625 of the top 1,000 Twitter advertisers have reportedly pulled their ad dollars, including major brands such as Unilever, Jeep, Coca-Cola, Merck, and Wells Fargo.
In recent months, many advertisers have been concerned with Twitter’s direction under Musk’s leadership. Staff cuts, the apparent rise of hate speech, and controversial policy decisions like inviting previously banned users back to the platform have all contributed to a growing exodus of advertisers. According to Pathmatics by Sensor Tower data, the monthly revenue from those top 1,000 advertisers plummeted by over 60% from October through January 25, from around $127 million to just over $48 million.
He has previously suggested that the key to improving ad sales is to focus on the relevance of ads to users. While Musk has attempted to increase revenue through a subscription model and charging for verified accounts, these efforts have failed. General Motors, for example, has paused its advertising on Twitter while it evaluates the platform to succeed” As a result, Musk will likely need to prioritize rebuilding Twitter’s relationships with advertisers and strengthening its core advertising business.
Impact of CEO Search on Tesla’s Shares
The announcement of the search for a new CEO for Twitter came just before Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting scheduled for Tuesday. Since Musk’s initial interest in buying Twitter, Tesla’s share price has taken a hit. Investors have expressed concern that his preoccupation with the social media platform has diverted his attention from Tesla’s business operations. Tesla’s stock closed Thursday at 55% below where it was 13 months ago when Musk first revealed his purchase of a 9% stake in Twitter. Although Tesla’s stock initially rose by 3% in early trading on Friday, it lost most of that gain shortly after the market opened.
Analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush believes that Elon Musk leaving his position as CEO of Twitter earlier than expected is good news for both Tesla and SpaceX, as it means Musk can devote more time to his other ventures. Twitter users could also welcome this development, as Musk promised to find a new CEO to run the social media platform after most participants in a Twitter poll voted that he should give up the job. In December, he jokingly said he would name a replacement “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!”