Elon Musk has revealed this Friday the identity of the new CEO of Twitter. This is Linda Yaccarino, head of publicity for NBCUniversal (NBCU). The media conglomerate announced this morning that the executive was leaving the company with immediate effect and she herself published a revealing message: “It has been an absolute honor to be part of Comcast NBCUniversal and lead the most incredible team.” Shortly after came Musk’s tweet, confirming her appointment.
According to The New York Times, both have had conversations for weeks. at the time it was interviewed to lead Twitter, Yaccarino in turn interviewed Musk in a discussion at an industry event in Miami last month.
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
Yaccarino has been the president of global advertising and alliances at NBCU, where she has worked for more than a decade, specializing in data-driven advertising, something long seen as a deficit at Twitter. As NBCU’s head of advertising sales, she was instrumental in launching the service streaming The company’s Peacock, which includes advertising and competes, albeit in a subordinate position, in the big league of on-demand theater platforms in the US.
His experience in advertising – he has overseen a portfolio of $13 billion in annual revenue, leading a team of 2,000 people – is an invaluable asset to Twitter, from which countless advertisers have fled after Musk’s entry in April 2022. Re-attracting publicity is the first task for any person in charge of the platform, not only because of the flight of large Twitter brands since its privatization, in the purchase operation worth 44,000 million dollars that was completed in October. Also because the digital advertising market is falling amid a slowing economy. When Twitter was publicly traded, roughly 90% of its revenue came from advertising sales.
Musk, owner of Twitter and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, announced on Thursday on the social network that the new CEO would join “within six weeks”, after assuring for months that running the company had become something “painful”, with the occasional night sleeping on the sofa in his office. Yaccarino’s confirmation as the new CEO comes just one business day before one of the biggest events of the year for NBCU, the annual meeting for advertisers, which will take place on Monday in New York as a prologue to a big week for the sector ( ABC Disney, Fox and Warner Bros, among others, will also make their presentations). Throughout this week NBCU sources had assured that Yaccarino was participating in the preparation and rehearsals of the aforementioned act.
The new CEO of Twitter, born into an Italian-American family and a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, is known for her close relationships with marketers and ad agencies. She has designed advertising campaigns for the White House, under the Donald Trump and Joe Biden Administrations, and has a reputation for being a tough negotiator, to the point of being described as “a velvet hammer”, according to The Wall Street Journal, the first to note his appointment weeks ago. As Musk’s speaker at their colloquium in Miami Beach last month, Yaccarino was poignant when asked about some of her most controversial tweets.
“Elon has promised to be accessible to everyone to receive their comments,” the executive said near the end of the interview. Later, she added: “If free speech, as he says, is the foundation of this country, I’m not sure there’s anyone in this room who would disagree with that.” The businessman of South African origin presents himself as an “absolutist of freedom of expression.”
Yaccarino’s foreseeable swerve into Twitter advertising will in any case be closely watched by Musk, whose role will transition to that of chief executive and chief technology officer. Musk has made it clear that he was not going to cede control over the platform, ensuring that he will retain responsibility for product operations, software and systems. No one expects it to fade into the background, to the annoyance of Tesla shareholders, who in December, when their shares plunged into the worst result of the year, accused the tycoon of neglecting Tesla on Twitter. The relay at the top of Twitter has brought joy to the manufacturer of electric vehicles on the stock market: its shares closed on Thursday with 2% after Musk’s announcement. In the morning today they rose 2.8%.
There are still many questions about what the relief means for the company. Regulators, cash flow and debt payments remain the main challenges. The content moderation operation, which Musk slashed to cut costs, faces scrutiny from regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. And getting the company’s cash flow positive again is paramount, as the businessman must face $1.5 billion in interest payments on the debt he took on to buy Twitter. Musk has said that he expects to reach that milestone this quarter.
The media company to which Yaccarino has belonged until now also faces succession problems, as has Twitter until now. NBCUniversal continues to search for a replacement for Jeff Shell, the chief executive, who was fired last month after an internal investigation found he used his position to sexually pressure a CNBC network anchor.
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