“I’m excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk wrote in a tweet on Friday.
He said that she will “mainly focus on business operations, while I will focus on product design and new technologies.”
Earlier in the day, Yaccarino announced that she would be leaving her position as president of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal.
“We have transformed our company and the entire industry.”
As CEO, Yaccarino will face a long list of challenges that have accumulated under Musk’s ownership, including an exodus of advertisers, service outages, regulatory scrutiny and a growing list of rivals. Musk’s controversial policy changes and statements have also alienated some longtime Twitter users.
Even when Musk steps down as CEO, he will likely still retain significant control over the company’s future direction. Musk previously said that he would serve as the company’s chief executive and chief technology officer, as well as owning the platform.
An experienced media executive
Musk has clashed with the mainstream media and also said that he hates publicity. But Yaccarino represents both worlds.
Yaccarino has been with NBCUniversal for more than 11 years and returned to the company where she started as a college intern. Prior to that, she was Executive Vice President/COO of Ad Sales, Marketing and Acquisitions at Turner Broadcasting, which included CNN at the time.
NBCUniversal’s ad sales team has generated $100 billion ($150 billion) in ad sales since joining in 2011, according to its profile, and forged partnerships with many new media companies including Twitter, Apple News , Buzzfeed, Snapchat and YouTube.
Last month he appeared with Musk at an industry conference for a session titled “Twitter 2.0: From Conversations to Partnerships.”
Yaccarino’s most notable achievement at NBCUniversal is building unified ad sales teams instead of having 15 different sales teams approaching the same advertisers.
The loss of Yaccarino comes at a bad time for NBCUniversal. Advertising revenue has been declining across the media industry, leading to cost cuts and, in some cases, layoffs at many companies.
NBCUniversal has had some job cuts of its own, though not as deep as some of its rivals.
Media companies, including NBC, plan to make “advance” presentations to advertisers next week in an effort to win advertising commitments by the end of this year. The NBC session is scheduled for Monday morning.
Yaccarino would not be the first nor the only woman at the helm of one of Musk’s companies.
Musk previously picked Gwynne Shotwell to run SpaceX. She is the company’s president and COO, while he holds the role of CEO. But some in the industry credit it as a key to SpaceX becoming the world’s most successful commercial rocket company.
Robyn Denholm also serves as the president of Tesla. She took over that role from Musk when the SEC demanded that she step down after a tweet in which she claimed that she had secured funds to take the company private, when she had not yet secured the funds to do so.
Denholm has kept a low profile at Tesla, not speaking at an investor day earlier this year at which 15 other Tesla executives besides Musk spoke.
The exodus of Twitter advertisers
Yaccarino’s choice may hint that Musk recognizes the limitations of his efforts to make Twitter less reliant on advertising.
Advertising sales accounted for more than 90 percent of the company’s revenue before Musk bought it in October. But many advertisers have since fled the site.
Earlier this year, digital marketing analytics firm Pathmatics by Sensor Tower reported that 625 of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers, including major brands like Coca-Cola, Unilever, Jeep, Wells Fargo, and Merck, had pulled their ad dollars. , according to data up to January 25. .
Monthly revenue for those previous top 1,000 advertisers plunged more than 60 percent from October through January 25, from about $127 million ($191 million) to just over $48 million ($72 million). dollars), according to the data.
Many advertisers have been concerned by Musk’s severe staff cuts, apparent rise in hate speech and controversial policy decisions, including his decision to invite users back on Twitter who had previously been banned.
General Motors said it would stop paying for advertising on Twitter while it evaluates the “new direction” of the platform. Musk blamed the exodus on “activist groups lobbying advertisers, though nothing has changed with content moderation.”
Musk has tried to increase revenue by racing to boost his subscription business, charging for the blue checkmarks that verify a user’s identity, with limited success. As a result, he may be left with no choice but to revive Twitter’s relationships with advertisers and boost its core advertising business.
Musk has previously spoken about improving ad sales by focusing more on the relevance of his ads.
Pressure to find a new Twitter CEO
Since it first expressed interest in buying Twitter, Tesla’s stock price has suffered. Investors worried that his fascination with Twitter would distract him from the challenges facing the electric carmaker.
Musk announced the CEO news shortly before Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
Tesla shares closed Thursday down 55 percent from where they were 13 months ago when its initial purchase of a nine percent stake was disclosed on Twitter. Tesla shares rose 3 percent in early trading on Friday just after the open, before losing most of that gain.
“We think Musk is leaving Twitter CEO sooner than originally thought…it’s a positive development for Tesla and SpaceX as Musk needs to spend more and more time on these golden child platforms instead of Twitter,” wrote Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush, in a note to clients on Friday.
It may also be good news for Twitter users. Musk vowed that he would find a new CEO to run Twitter last fall after 57 percent of those who participated in a Twitter poll he posted voted that he should step down.
In December he promised to name a replacement “as soon as I find someone dumb enough to take the job!”