Linda Yaccarino, former NBCUniversal ad chief, appointed as Twitter’s next CEO
In an intriguing turn of events, Elon Musk’s recent cryptic tweet about his successor at Twitter has led to the revelation that Linda Yaccarino, formerly the head of advertising at NBCUniversal, will be taking the reins as the social media giant’s next CEO, as reported by The Washington Post.
Yaccarino’s departure from NBCUniversal was announced earlier today, effective immediately. During her tenure of over 12 years, she spearheaded efforts to enhance ad effectiveness measurement within the company and played a pivotal role in the successful launch of the ad-supported Peacock streaming service, according to The Wall Street Journal. Expressing her gratitude, Yaccarino referred to her time at NBCU as an “absolute honor,” emphasizing the transformative impact her team had on the entire industry.
With Yaccarino now at the helm of Twitter, the platform has a promising opportunity to mend relationships with advertisers who had withdrawn their support in the wake of Musk’s takeover. Concerns over brand safety and cybersecurity issues had caused advertisers to recoil, including instances where ads were displayed alongside extremist content and accounts impersonating prominent brands were able to obtain verification checkmarks, resulting in reputational damage.
Musk disclosed that Yaccarino would assume her new role at Twitter in approximately six weeks, while he himself transitions into overseeing product, software, and system operations as the executive chair and chief technology officer.
Musk’s search for Twitter’s next CEO commenced in December of last year when he tweeted about his intention to step down once he found a successor “foolish enough to take the job.” Skepticism arose regarding Musk’s willingness to relinquish control of Twitter, leading some outlets to speculate that little may change in terms of his influence even after Yaccarino’s appointment. It is likely that Musk will continue to have the final say in platform-related matters, potentially posing a challenge for Yaccarino as she navigates his unpredictable whims, which have reportedly driven previous Twitter executives to depart the company.
According to recent data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, many of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers prior to Musk’s involvement remain estranged from the platform, as highlighted by the WSJ. During the first quarter of this year, 37 major brands refrained from advertising on Twitter, while 24 brands significantly reduced their ad spending by 80% or more. These brands, which previously accounted for a substantial portion of Twitter’s revenue, pose immediate challenges for Yaccarino in her pursuit to win them back.
Nevertheless, Yaccarino’s considerable influence in the industry may prove pivotal. Recognized as a shrewd negotiator, Yaccarino has cultivated strong relationships with marketers and advertising agencies. At NBCUniversal, she successfully forged partnerships with renowned companies such as Apple, Snapchat, and YouTube, and her team achieved impressive ad sales exceeding $100 billion, according to The Post. Notably, Yaccarino’s association with Apple could be significant, given Twitter’s recent clash with the tech giant. Following a series of miscommunications, Apple temporarily paused its ad spending on Twitter, and Musk publicly expressed his discontent. Eventually, the situation appeared to be resolved, and Apple reportedly resumed advertising on the platform.
Yaccarino has yet to comment publicly on her new role as Twitter’s CEO.
“Conspiracy Twitter” Protests the Appointment Twitter users, particularly those associated with “Conspiracy Twitter,” have voiced their opposition to Yaccarino’s hiring, raising concerns that she may steer the platform back to its former state or curtail Musk’s initiatives promoting free speech. A widely shared tweet from BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh shed light on the backlash against Yaccarino’s appointment, describing the “Conspiracy Twitter” community’s meltdown in response to the news.
According to The Washington Post’s profile on Yaccarino, these users fear that she will revert Twitter to its previous ways or suppress Musk’s endeavors to foster free speech. However, these concerns may be unwarranted, as Yaccarino’s previous public statements appeared to align with Musk’s leadership style. Her Twitter bio reflects her drive for industry progress and admiration for provocative leadership.
Interestingly, Yaccarino seemed to impress Musk earlier this year during a marketing event in Miami Beach, where both were featured as keynote speakers discussing the future of Twitter and its prospects for marketers. The WSJ reported that Yaccarino commended Musk’s commitment to accessibility and constant feedback on the platform. She also seemingly endorsed Musk’s stance on freedom of speech, which advocates for less content moderation overall—a factor contributing to advertisers’ hesitation to invest in the platform.
During the event, Yaccarino voiced her agreement with Musk’s belief that freedom of speech is a cornerstone of the country, stating, “If freedom of speech, as he says, is the bedrock of this country, I’m not sure there’s anyone in this room who could disagree with that.”
Responding to users’ concerns about Yaccarino’s potential influence on the platform, Musk took to Twitter to reassure them that the commitment to open-source transparency and acceptance of diverse viewpoints would remain unchanged.
“The commitment to open source transparency and accepting a wide range of viewpoints remains unchanged,” Musk tweeted, attempting to assuage worries.
As the countdown begins for Yaccarino’s assumption of the CEO role at Twitter, stakeholders and users alike are eagerly observing how her tenure will unfold. With her extensive experience in advertising, strong industry connections, and apparent alignment with Musk’s vision, Yaccarino has the opportunity to steer Twitter toward a more advertiser-friendly and inclusive future while balancing the challenges posed by the platform’s history and Musk’s influential presence.