Musk appoints new Twitter boss

In just six months after his contentious purchase of the social media business, Elon Musk has selected a new CEO of Twitter.

The billionaire said that Linda Yaccarino, the former chief of advertising at NBCUniversal, would manage the site’s business operations.

She would begin, he added, in six weeks.

Elon Musk will still be active as executive chairman and chief technology officer.

He tweeted his decision, stating, “Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app,” a day after he had sparked rumours by saying that he had found a new employer without revealing who they were.

Mr Musk, who paid $44 billion for the social networking site last year, had been pressured to find a new CEO and turn his attention back to his other companies, such as electric carmaker Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX.

After methodically moving up through the ranks of some of America’s largest media businesses, Ms Yaccarino will become that uncommon example of a woman at the top of a major tech corporation, as less than 10% of Fortune 500 tech companies are managed by women.

Ms. Yaccarino was raised in an Italian-American family with a police officer for father and a non-college-educated mother.

She spent 15 years with Turner Entertainment after earning her degree from Penn State before joining NBCUniversal, where she handled about 2,000 employees and took part in the company’s streaming service launch.

She has worked closely with major companies, identifying chances for product placement and persuading them to sponsor television programs, even those with a reputation for edgy material, like Sex and the City when it originally debuted.

Additionally, she has developed connections with platforms like Apple News, Snapchat, and YouTube.

In a 2005 article in a trade journal, she was described as a busy married mother of two kids, who were then 13 and 9.

At the time, she declared, “I have no hobbies whatsoever.”

According to Claire Atkinson of Business Insider, who has followed Ms. Yaccarino’s career for 20 years, her history in advertising could be beneficial for Twitter, which has seen a steep decline in its ad revenue since Mr. Musk’s acquisition.

The top media correspondent said, “If Twitter is looking to monetise better than they have been, then that would be place to start, and Linda would be the ideal person to make that happen.”

She is the kind of person Elon Musk, in my opinion, needs, Ms. Atkinson continued. She will not be turned over.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2012 that her negotiation tactics within the sector earned her the moniker “velvet hammer”.

Ms. Yaccarino will have to oversee a company that has had trouble turning a profit while coming under close scrutiny for how Twitter tackles the propagation of false information and handles hate speech.

When Mr Musk first started talking about his ambitions for Twitter last year, he said he wanted to reform how the site monitored content and lessen its reliance on advertising.

He added that he hoped to develop the website into something he dubbed X by adding payment options, encrypted messaging, and phone conversations.

But when Mr Musk sacked hundreds of employees after taking over, including those who were in charge of handling offensive messages, he courted criticism.

He also changed how the service authenticates accounts, charging for blue ticks in a move that some criticized for making it easier for false information to proliferate.

Some of the adjustments caused advertisers to lose interest in the site because they were concerned about potential threats to their brands.

Although Mr Musk admitted “massive” revenue drops, he told last month that businesses were rebounding.

During an interview with Elon Musk at an advertising convention last month, Ms. Yaccarino urged him to explain what he was doing to convince businesses that their brands wouldn’t be at risk.

“The people in this room are your accelerated path to profitability,” she declared. However, there are quite a few sceptics present.

On social media, where many were searching for hints about Ms Yaccarino’s politics, which are said to lean conservative, there was some immediate scepticism about her selection.

Her involvement in a coronavirus vaccination campaign with Pope Francis and her work for the World Economic Forum, which is perceived unfavourably as “globalist” by people on the right, have not been well welcomed in some circles.

Others on the left have questioned her political engagement in the former President Donald Trump’s White House Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Council.

Mr Musk, who has previously promoted women into top roles at SpaceX and Tesla, is renowned for being a demanding and unpredictable boss.

Even the announcement took a strange turn as Ms Yaccarino’s NBCUniversal managers seemed caught off guard by media reports about her that were spurred by Mr. Musk’s comments.

Ms. Yaccarino had yet to make a public statement regarding the decision as of Friday afternoon in the US.

Industry observers will be interested to see how the New Yorker and the up-to-now hands-on Mr Musk’s relationship changes.

The two Twitter executives would need to have “difficult conversations” about how to handle moderation, according to Ms Atkinson, particularly with the US presidential election in 2024 fast approaching.

Nobody knows how long Linda will be able to survive in these challenging management circumstances, Ms. Atkinson added.

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