Six months after his contentious acquisition of the social media platform, Elon Musk has selected a new chief executive of Twitter.
The billionaire said that former NBCUniversal head of advertising Linda Yaccarino will be in charge of the site’s commercial operations.
In six weeks, she will begin working, he added.
Mr. Musk will continue to serve as executive chairman and CTO.
Tweeting, “Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app,” he confirmed the choice a day after he had fuelled suspicion by saying that he had found a new employer without disclosing their name.
Mr. Musk, who purchased the social networking site last year for $44bn, was under pressure to find someone else to head the company so that he could devote more time to his other enterprises, such as electric car manufacturer Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX.
Ms. Yaccarino will become one of the few women to lead a Fortune 500 technology company after having worked her way up through the ranks of some of America’s largest media organizations.
Who exactly is Linda Yaccarino?
Ms. Yaccarino was born to an Italian father and an unschooled mother in a middle-class Italian-American household.
She joined Turner Entertainment after graduating from Penn State and stayed there for 15 years; then she moved on to NBCUniversal, where she managed over 2,000 employees and helped create the network’s streaming service.
Her career is distinguished by the extent to which she has worked closely with major companies, discovering product placement possibilities and persuading them to advertise alongside television series, even those with a reputation for edgy material, like Sex and the City when it originally premiered.
She has also established connections with prominent figures at Apple News, Snapchat, and YouTube, among others in the emerging media.
A 2005 feature in a trade magazine painted a picture of a busy wife and mother to two young teenagers.
She said, “I have zero interests.”
Claire Atkinson, who has followed Ms. Yaccarino’s career over the last two decades and writes for Business Insider, said that her experience in the advertising industry might benefit Twitter, which has seen its ad sales decline drastically since Mr. Musk’s acquisition.
According to Twitter’s lead media reporter, “if Twitter is looking to monetise better than they have been, then that would be the place to start and Linda would be the ideal person to make that happen.”
“She’s the kind of person that I can imagine Elon Musk needs,” Ms. Atkinson said of the candidate. As the saying goes, “She won’t be rolled over.”
According to the Wall Street Journal from 2012, her approach to negotiations has earned her the moniker “velvet hammer” in the business.
With Twitter under heavy scrutiny for how it handles the spread of disinformation and regulates hate speech, Ms. Yaccarino will have the difficult task of leading a company that has struggled to be profitable.
Mr. Musk has been vocal about his intentions for Twitter since last year, when he first began outlining them. Among other things, he wants to make the network less reliant on advertisements and alter its approach to content moderation.
He also said that he planned on transforming the site into X with the addition of financial processing, encrypted chat, and telephone calling.
However, Mr. Musk courted controversy when, following his takeover, he dismissed hundreds of employees, including those whose job it was to deal with offensive messages.
Critics suggested his changes to the service’s authentication procedures, which include charging for blue ticks, will increase the prevalence of false information.
Because of the modifications, advertisers stopped spending money on the site out of fear for their brands.
Mr. Musk has admitted “massive” revenue drops but said last month on the BBC that businesses were beginning to return.
Ms. Yaccarino interviewed Mr. Musk at an advertising convention last month and questioned him on what he was doing to ensure the safety of companies’ brands.
You can cut your time to profit in half by working with the folks here, she suggested. “But there are some reasonable doubters here.”
Social media users, on the lookout for evidence of Ms. Yaccarino’s purportedly conservative ideology, reacted quickly with skepticism to her nomination.
Her participation in a coronavirus vaccine campaign involving Pope Francis, as well as her work with the World Economic Forum, an organization seen negatively as “globalist” by some on the right, have not been well-received in certain areas.
Some on the political left are suspicious of her motives for participating in President Trump’s White House committee on sports, health, and nutrition.
While Mr. Musk has promoted women to executive roles at SpaceX and Tesla, he has a reputation for being an unpredictable and demanding leader.
After media stories prompted by Mr. Musk’s article that named Ms. Yaccarino seemed to take her supervisors at NBCUniversal by surprise, the announcement itself took place in an unorthodox manner.
Ms. Yaccarino has not made any public remarks on the change as of Friday afternoon in the United States.
The connection between the New Yorker and the up to now hands-on Mr. Musk will be closely watched by observers in the industry.
Ms. Atkinson warned that two Twitter executives will have “difficult conversations” regarding moderation in the years leading up to the 2024 US presidential election.
“How long Linda can last under these tricky management situations is anyone’s guess,” Ms. Atkinson added.