Who is Linda Yaccarino? Twitter’s new CEO takes charge

·3-min read
 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

After eight turbulent months at the helm, Elon Musk has relinquished the top job at Twitter to a new CEO: Linda Yaccarinno.

Musk confirmed the appointment of former NBCUniversal advertising boss Yaccarino as Twitter’s new chief executive in a tweet on Friday afternoon (June 2).

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On May 12, the billionaire entrepreneur set tongues wagging when he said that he was intending to step down from the top job and had chosen an unnamed woman to replace him as chief executive at Twitter.

He added that she would start in six weeks, with Musk’s role transitioning to executive chairman and chief technology officer focused on “monitoring the product”.

That day has now come, with Yaccarino stepping into the top job from today, June 5, two weeks earlier than first thought.

During his short time at the reins, Musk gutted Twitter’s workforce, fired its executive team, and dissolved the board of directors. Significantly for users, he has also taken a more lax approach to content moderation, restoring banned accounts.

The changes have inevitably proven divisive, garnering applause from free-speech advocates, while spooking advertisers who don’t want their ads to appear next to hate speech or misinformation. Precipitating a drop in ad sales, Musk has tried to shift Twitter toward subscriptions by charging for features that were previously free, like verification.

Now, Musk is making good on his promise to step down as Twitter CEO following a poll asking whether he should leave or not.

Who is Linda Yaccarino?

Linda Yaccarino is a seasoned digital advertising executive. The 60-year-old media industry veteran has exalted Musk’s takeover of Twitter, claiming that you should never bet against a pioneer in electric cars and Space travel.

Yaccarino is the chairwoman of Global Advertising and Partnerships at US media giant NBCUniversal. She is one of the most powerful women in the media industry, and has been at the forefront of TV and digital advertising for more than a decade. Her name often comes up when a media conglomerate is on the hunt for a new CEO.

At NBC Universal, she has held a variety of leadership roles, and is currently responsible for overseeing all of its advertising sales, including linear TV, digital, and streaming.

Yaccarino is viewed as a powerhouse in digital advertising, helping to generate more than $100 billion (£79 bn) in ad sales during her 12 years at NBCUniversal. During that time, she’s had a close relationship with Twitter, and the news publishers that provide the content that keeps users glued to the platform.

More recently, Yaccarino has praised Musk amid the cacophony of criticism over his handling of Twitter. As recently as last month, Yaccarino interviewed Musk onstage at a media conference, where they discussed what the future held for marketers on the social media platform.

In 2021, she said that she was “excited” about Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. She also said that she believed Musk can “make Twitter a better place”.

Even as Musk was spooking advertisers with his comments about transforming Twitter into a haven for free-speech absolutists, Yaccarino was still in his corner. Two weeks after Musk’s takeover, Yaccarino said she had been in touch with Twitter leadership. She also declared that, “Twitter is the single, No 1 biggest” partner for content distribution for NBCUniversal.

NBCU has significant partnerships with Twitter: the broadcaster recently renewed its deal to host content from the 2024 Olympics on the platform. Yaccarino also recently tweeted that Musk should bring back Twitter’s live video feature, Periscope, calling it “an idea for our new partnership”.

What’s more, on her first day in the new role, Yaccarino has recruited Joe Benarroch, previously an executive vice president with her at NBCU and former chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships at the company.

The pair worked closely together at NBCU, with Yaccarino reportedly relying on Benarroch as a “trusted advisor”, according to Mashable.