Elon Musk names NBCU advertising executive Linda Yaccarino as Twitter

Elon Musk names NBCU advertising executive Linda Yaccarino as Twitter CEO

NEW YORK (CNN) Elon Musk on Friday named longtime media executive Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s new CEO, months after he vowed to step down from the position.

“I’m excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk wrote in one tweet on Friday. He said she will “primarily focus on business operations while I focus on product design and new technologies.”

Earlier in the day, Yaccarino announced that she was stepping down from her role as chair of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal.

“It has been an absolute honor to be a part of Comcast NBCUniversal and to lead the most incredible team,” she said in a statement on Friday. “We changed our company and the entire industry.”

As CEO, Yaccarino will face a long list of challenges that have accumulated under Musk’s leadership, including advertiser churn, service disruptions, regulatory scrutiny, and a growing list of competitors. Musk’s controversial policy changes and remarks have also angered some longtime Twitter users.

Even with Musk stepping down from the CEO position, he’s likely to retain significant control over the company’s future direction. Musk previously said he would serve as the company’s CEO and CTO, as well as owning the platform.

An experienced media manager

Musk has run afoul of the mainstream media and has also stated that he hates advertising. 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. Previously, she was executive vice president/COO of advertising sales, marketing and acquisitions at Turner Broadcasting, which at the time also owned CNN.

At NBCUniversal, according to her company profile, she leads a 2,000-strong global team. That would be more people on her team than still work at Twitter. Musk said in an interview with the BBC last month that the number had dropped to 1,500 people after several layoffs under his supervision.

According to her profile, since joining in 2011, NBCUniversal’s ad sales team has generated $100 billion in advertising sales and formed partnerships with many new media companies, including Twitter, as well as Apple News, Buzzfeed, Snapchat and YouTube.

Last month, she 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 creating unified ad sales teams instead of having 15 different sales teams targeting the same advertisers.

“We were difficult to do business with,” she said of the consolidation in an interview with Salesforce.

The loss of Yaccarino comes at a bad time for NBCUniversal. Advertising revenue has declined across the media industry, leading to cost-cutting and, in some cases, layoffs for many companies. NBCUniversal also saw some job cuts, although not as severely as some of its peers.

Media companies, including NBC, will be making “pre-presentations” to advertisers next week for advertising commitments later this year. The NBC session is scheduled for Monday morning.

Yaccarino wouldn’t be the first or only woman to run one of Musk’s companies.

Previously, Musk hired Gwynne Shotwell to run SpaceX. She is the company’s President and COO while he holds the CEO title. However, some in the industry see them as a key factor in SpaceX becoming the world’s most successful commercial rocket company.

Robyn Denholm is also chairman of Tesla. She took over that role from Musk when the SEC asked him to leave the position after he tweeted that he had secured funding to take the company private, although he had not yet secured funding to do so.

Denholm has kept a low profile on Tesla, not speaking at an investor day earlier this year, which included Musk and 15 other Tesla executives

Twitter’s advertiser exodus

Yaccarino’s election could be an indication that Musk is recognizing the limitations of his efforts to make Twitter less dependent on advertising.

Ad sales accounted for more than 90% of the company’s top line before Musk bought it in October. However, many advertisers have since left the site.

Earlier this year, digital marketing analytics firm Pathmatics by Sensor Tower reported that 625 of the top 1,000 Twitter advertisers, including big brands like Coca-Cola, Unilever, Jeep, Wells Fargo and Merck, had withdrawn their advertising dollars, based on data up to March 25. January According to the data, monthly earnings for the previous top 1,000 advertisers fell more than 60% from October through January 25, from around $127 million to just over $48 million.

Many advertisers have been concerned about Musk’s drastic downsizing, apparent rise in hate speech, and controversial policy decisions, including his attempt to reinvite previously banned users to Twitter.

General Motors said it would stop paying for advertising on Twitter while the platform’s “new direction” was evaluated. Musk blamed the exodus on “activist groups pressuring advertisers, although content moderation hasn’t changed.”

Musk has tried to increase revenue by growing its subscription business and charging for the blue ticks that verify a user’s identity — with limited success. As such, it may have little choice but to revitalize Twitter’s relationships with advertisers and boost its core advertising business.

Musk has previously spoken of improving ad sales by focusing more on the relevance of his ads.

Pressure to find a new Twitter CEO

Tesla (TSLA) stock price has suffered since it first expressed interest in buying Twitter. Investors worry his fascination with Twitter could distract him from the challenges facing the electric carmaker.

Musk announced the CEO news just ahead of Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

Shares of Tesla closed Thursday down 55% from 13 months ago when it was announced that it had acquired a 9% stake in Twitter for the first time. Shares of Tesla rose 3% in early trading Friday shortly after the open, but then gave up most of that gain.

“We believe that Musk is leaving the CEO of Twitter sooner than originally thought…is a positive development for Tesla and SpaceX as Musk needs to spend increasing amounts of time on these golden child platforms rather than Twitter,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a message to customers on Friday.

It could also be welcome news for Twitter users. Musk vowed last fall to find a new CEO for Twitter after 57% of respondents to a Twitter poll he published voted that he should quit the job. In December, he promised to name a replacement “as soon as I find one”. someone dumb enough take the job!”