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Former NBCU exec Linda Yaccarino prepares to take over Twitter CEO role from Elon Musk

05.06.23 23:00
Linda Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal marketing executive, is preparing to take over the CEO role at Twitter from Elon Musk, weeks after the billionaire announced hiring her for the top spot at the social media company.

On Sunday, Yaccarino tweeted that Twitter had hired Joe Benarroch, NBCU’s former senior vice president of communications for advertising and partnerships, to join her at the company. Benarroch will work in business operations, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“Let’s get to work @Twitter! #timetofly” Yaccarino said in the tweet.

And on Saturday, Yaccarino hinted that she’d be starting the new job soon. She tweeted a photo of the New York skyline and said, “Bay Area views coming soon!” Twitter is based in San Francisco.

The New York Times and The Information reported that Yaccarino is expected to officially start as Twitter CEO on Monday, citing sources familiar with the matter. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Musk announced in May that Yaccarino, formerly chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCU, would be taking over as CEO of Twitter with a focus on business operations, after months of suggesting that he planned to find a new top leader for the struggling platform. In December, Musk ran a poll on the platform asking users whether he should step back as Twitter’s CEO, which ended with the majority of users voting in the affirmative.

Musk is likely betting on Yaccarino’s ad industry chops to restore Twitter’s flagging advertising business. On Monday, the New York Times reported that Twitter’s US advertising revenue from the five weeks from April 1 to the first week of May was down 59% year-over-year, citing an internal presentation. (CNN has not viewed the presentation.)

Just 43% of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers as of September, the month before Musk’s takeover, were still advertising on the platform as of April, according to data provided to CNN by market intelligence firm Sensor Tower last month.

Reversing that decline could prove to be an uphill battle: Twitter’s ad business has declined sharply since Musk’s takeover due to advertiser concerns over hate speech on the platform, mass layoffs at the company and general uncertainty about Twitter’s future direction.

Yaccarino’s takeover is set to come just days after the resignation of Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, who confirmed her exit in a tweet Friday.

Yaccarino may also struggle to rein in Musk, whose tweets and policy decisions often generate controversy.

Musk last month told CNBC he “didn’t care” if his controversial tweets drew the ire of Twitter advertisers or Tesla shareholders. “I’ll say what I want to say, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” he said.

Even without the CEO title, Musk will retain significant control over Twitter as its owner. He has said he will oversee product, technology and software and systems operations, and will also transition to being the company’s executive chairman.

Yaccarino’s first day is expected to coincide with a Twitter Spaces livestream event Musk is set to host with Democratic presidential hopeful and anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. A similar event Musk held with Ron DeSantis last month to launch the Florida governor’s presidential campaign was largely overshadowed by technical glitches that delayed the event by nearly half an hour.

Following the DeSantis event, Yaccarino tweeted: “We just heard a rare and unscripted conversation, on a range of important topics, with a Presidential candidate — all launched on Twitter. That’s historical. Let’s do more,” CNN reports.