In a few short weeks, Elon Musk will hand over the helm of Twitter to Linda Yaccarino. But who exactly is the new chief executive, and how does she fit into Musk’s vision of “the everything app”?
Musk, who brought Twitter in October and has been running it since, has long insisted that he would step down as top executive at the company, which is now called X Corp.
Tweeting to his 139 million followers on Friday, he said he was “excited” to welcome Ms Yaccarino, 60, to the role, adding that he was “looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app”.
Musk said Ms Yaccarino’s prime focus will be on business operations, while he will stay closely connected to product design and new technology.
With Ms Yaccarino’s background in the advertising sector, Musk is hoping that Twitter can lure back advertisers which initially turned away from the platform after Musk’s takeover, fearing harm for their brand.
‘A marketer’s leader’
A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, US, Ms Yaccarino built her career as an advertising executive, having first held a variety of roles at Turner Broadcasting System Inc – a global broadcasting company that is now owned by Warner Bros.
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Starting out in media sales outlets, from 1996 to 2011 she worked her way up to holding the positions of both executive vice president and chief operating officer, before joining NBCUniversal – one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies.
She oversaw the merger between NBC and Comcast – the creation of NBCUniversal – and as chairman of the company, managed the market strategy and revenue from advertising – which totalled nearly $10bn (£8bn) for the company’s entire portfolio of broadcast, cable and digital assets.
Right before the Twitter takeover announcement, NBCUniversal said that the mother-of-two would step down from her current role as chairman for global advertising and partnerships, which she has held for just over two years.
She was described as “a marketer’s leader” by Mark DiMassimo, founder and creative chief of ad agency DiGo, who added: “She understands what marketers need.”
During her 12 years at NBCUniversal, her team generated more than $100bn (£80bn) in advert sales, according to company notes.
Making change in the advertising industry
Throughout her career, Ms Yaccarino has changed the way the advertising industry works.
One of the most notable was the introduction of a digital platform known as One Platform, that makes it easier to buy adverts across a variety of different media.
“I think that first and foremost, she’ll bring to Twitter an understanding of what advertisers need to see to get back on the platform from the brand safety perspective,” Dave Campanelli, chief investment officer of media buying firm Horizon Media said.
He said that Ms Yaccarino knows “better than anyone” what it is going to take to get advertisers and buyers back to the company.
“The question really is, is she going to have free rein to do all that or is it going to be just the same old, same old (with Musk),” Mr Campanelli said.
Since taking on Twitter, Musk has regularly made light of any controversies, but investors in Tesla have become increasingly concerned that he has been devoting too much time to turning around the platform.
Some critics have questioned Ms Yaccarino’s political leanings, having previously worked closely with both the Donald Trump and Joe Biden administrations.
In 2018, Trump appointed Ms Yaccarino to serve on his Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition for two years.
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Then, as chair of the Ad Council in both 2021 and 2022, she worked with Mr Biden and the White House to help create a coronavirus vaccination campaign that reached over 200 million Americans.
Ms Yaccarino also serves as chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Taskforce On The Future Of Work – a wordy job title that ultimately means helping decision-makers from both the public and private sectors to train workers in low-carbon and high-technology economies.
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