Elon Musk is once again in the headlines.
The billionaire caused a real earthquake on May 11 by announcing to everyone’s surprise that he had found a CEO to succeed him at the head of Twitter.
Three months ago, the Techno King said he would remain boss of the microblogging site until the end of the year.
“I think I need to stabilize the organization and just make sure it’s in a financially healthy place and that the product roadmap is clearly laid out,” Musk said during a remote video interview on Feb.15. “I’m guessing probably towards the end of this year should be a good timing to find someone else to run the company, because I think it should be in a stable condition around, you know the end of this year.”
But in the end, the wait and the search went faster than expected.
“Excited to announce that I’ve a new CEO for X/Twitter,” the tech tycoon said on May 11 in a tweet. “She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
The billionaire, who added that he will transition to a more technical role, didn’t provide the name of the new chief executive officer at the time.
“My role will transition to being exec chair & CTO, overseeing product, software & sysops,” he said.
But 24 hours after crazy rumors, the billionaire has just given the name of the new CEO.
“I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk announced on May 12.
He added that she 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.”
Yaccarino’s arrival had become almost certain after his previous employer, NBCUniversal, announced his departure earlier.
“We are grateful for Linda Yaccarino’s leadership of NBCUniversal’s Advertising Sales business, and for the innovative team and platform she has built,” said Mike Cavanagh, Comcast’s CEO said in a statement. “Linda has made countless contributions to the company during her twelve year tenure, and we wish her the best.”
“It has been an absolute honor to be part of Comcast NBCUniversal and lead the most incredible team,” Yaccarino said. “We’ve transformed our company and the entire industry—and I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished together, and grateful to my colleagues and mentors.”
Yaccarino joined NBCU in November 2011, according to her LinkedIn profile. She had been since November 2020, Chairman, Global Advertising & Partnerships.
She helped launch the Peacock streaming service and oversaw live events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics. She was also in charge of partnerships with tech companies like Snapchat and YouTube which are direct rivals to Twitter.
Yaccarino and Musk seem to have a cordial and friendly relationship. last month, she interviewed him onstage at a major advertising conference in Miami. On stage, she called him “friend” and “buddy.” Twitter and NBCU have also extended their partnership to the Olympics.
The task ahead of Yaccarino at Twitter is Herculean. Musk’s determination to make the platform a bastion of conservatives and a place where anything can be said as long as it doesn’t violate the law has scared away many advertisers.
He had embarked on a race to revamp the platform that had cost him dearly. The billionaire was in debt to the tune of $13 billion to finance the deal. He has since transferred this debt to Twitter’s balance sheet.
Musk has launched various initiatives to deal with the financial shortfall linked to the exodus of advertisers. He has integrated the account authentication blue checkmark into Blue, Twitter’s subscription service. Blue now costs $7.99 per month for individuals and $1,000 per month for organizations. But in the face of protests from small businesses and nonprofits, he said there will be specific prizes for them. It is unclear whether subscriptions followed.
Musk had also launched an unprecedented austerity cure by eliminating a total of 5,200 jobs, or 69.3% of Twitter’s workforce at the time of his arrival.
The billionaire has changed the corporate name of Twitter to X Holdings, an entity that could be the parent company of all businesses. He had hinted that his vision for Twitter was comparable to what he envisioned for X, a financial services company he co-founded in 1999 in Palo Alto, Calif. X merged in 2000 with software company Confinity.com. The merged company became PayPal.
“I do sort of have a grander vision for what I thought X.com or X corporation could have been back in the day,” he told Tesla shareholders during the general meeting in August 2022, when talking about Twitter. “It’s a pretty grand vision, and obviously that could be started from scratch, but I think Twitter would help to accelerate that by 3 to 5 years.”
He said that he believes that he has a good sense of where to point the engineering team at Twitter to make it radically better, and that X would be something that is “very useful for the world.”
Last June, during an internal all-hands with Twitter employees, Musk explained that he wanted Twitter to look more like WeChat and TikTok if it wants to achieve his goal of hitting 1 billion users.
“We could hone Twitter in the same way to be interesting,” Musk told Twitter employees. It also seems to be an important social mission to Twitter: “I think Twitter can be much better about informing people of serious issues.”
His model is WeChat, the Chinese app that mixes social media with payments, games, messaging, booking a flight ticket, ordering food, shopping etc.
“There’s no WeChat equivalent outside of China,” Musk said. “You basically live on WeChat in China. If we can recreate that with Twitter, we’ll be a great success.”
Before Twitter, Musk was already CEO of Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report, founder of SpaceX and The Boring Company, and co-founder of Neuralink. The billionaire is also working on his own company specializing in artificial intelligence.
By focusing on Twitter, Musk was spending less time at Tesla, frustrating some shareholders and markets that see the platform as an unwelcome distraction. Faced with criticism, Musk announced on December 20 that he would step down as CEO of Twitter after organizing a poll in which he asked users of the platform to vote whether or not he should continue to lead the company.
Nearly 18 million users voted and ‘yes’ won with 57.5% of the votes cast. Musk promised to abide by the result.
“I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” the billionaire said on Dec.20. “After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.”