Elon Musk reveals who is Twitter’s new CEO

Musk has hired former NBCUniversal advertising chief Linda Yaccarino, who modernised the advertisement business at the media firm.

Elon Musk
Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter in October, advertisers have fled the platform [File: Hannibal Hanschke/pool photo via AP]

Former NBCUniversal advertising chief Linda Yaccarino will become Twitter’s new CEO, current chief executive Elon Musk says in a tweet, as the social media platform seeks to reverse a plunge in advertisement revenues.

“I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk said on Friday. “@LindaYacc will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.”

Yaccarino, who modernised the advertising business at the Comcast Corp entertainment and media division, will have her hands full as she takes on a firm loaded with debt, among other challenges.

Since Musk acquired Twitter in October, advertisers have fled the platform, worried that their ads could appear next to inappropriate content after the company lost nearly 80 percent of its staff. Musk this year acknowledged that Twitter suffered a massive decline in advertisement revenue.

Musk has axed thousands of employees, rushed the launch of a subscription product that allowed scammers to impersonate major brands and suspended users with whom he disagreed.

Twitter’s “trajectory will immediately take a 180-degree turn” under Yaccarino’s leadership, said Lou Paskalis, a longtime advertisement industry executive and CEO of AJL Advisory, a marketing consultancy.

“I think [Yaccarino] has climbed every mountain she could at NBCU and did it impeccably well, and there’s no greater challenge than restoring order at Twitter,” he said.

Yaccarino could not be reached for comment.

While Musk said Yaccarino would help build an “everything app”, which he has previously said could offer a variety of services such as peer-to-peer payments, his selection of an advertising veteran signalled that digital ads would continue to be a core focus of the business.

In order to diversify revenue sources, Musk has focused on Twitter Blue, a subscription feature that costs users $8 per month to verify their accounts, but the product has had limited success.

Independent researcher Travis Brown, who has been tracking the number of Twitter Blue subscribers over time, estimated there were 619,858 customers as of April 30.

Blow to NBCUniversal

Yaccarino’s exit is another big blow to NBCUniversal. Last month, NBC parent Comcast said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was leaving after acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company after a complaint that prompted an investigation.

Advertising President Mark Marshall will step in as interim chairman of NBCUniversal’s advertising and partnerships group.

Yaccarino joined NBCU in 2011 after 15 years at Turner Entertainment and has been credited with taking the network’s advertisement sales operation into the digital era.

As broadcast television audiences migrated to streaming, she took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall last year to tell advertisers their brand messages were not an afterthought. She said NBCUniversal incorporated advertisements in its Peacock streaming service from the outset.

“Twitter needs credibility with the advertising community,” said Greg Kahn, chief executive of GK Digital Ventures media consultancy. “Linda has demonstrated her trust, her innovative nature of bringing new partners to the table and a deep bench of relationships.”

Musk, the CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, completed his purchase of Twitter in October for $44bn. He said in December that he would step aside as CEO once he found “someone foolish enough to take the job”.

On Thursday, Musk tweeted that he had found a CEO without naming Yaccarino. One person close to Yaccarino said Musk’s tweet may well have accelerated the timetable for her to join Twitter, which would be a balm to Tesla shareholders.

Shares of Tesla were down 1.3 percent on Friday even as analysts commented that a CEO hire would allow Musk to concentrate on the electric car business. Comcast shares were little changed.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters