Elon Musk has appointed Linda Yaccarino, former NBCUniversal advertising executive, as Twitter’s new CEO, as the firm attempts to reverse a decline in ad income.
Yaccarino will take over a troubled social media site saddled with debt after spending several years modernising the advertising business at NBCUniversal, which is controlled by Comcast Corp.
“I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk said in a tweet on Friday. “@LindaYacc will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.”
Since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in October, advertisers have deserted the social media platform, concerned that their advertising would show alongside inappropriate content after the firm laid off roughly 80% of its employees. Musk admitted earlier this year that Twitter’s ad revenue had plummeted dramatically.
Twitter’s “trajectory will immediately take a 180-degree turn” under her direction, according to Lou Paskalis, a longtime ad industry executive and CEO of marketing consultant AJL Advisory.
“I think (Yaccarino) has climbed every mountain she could at NBCU and did it impeccably well. And there’s no greater challenge than restoring order at Twitter,” he said.
While Musk stated that Yaccarino will assist in the development of a “everything app,” which he previously stated may offer a variety of services such as peer-to-peer payments, his choice of an advertising veteran indicated that digital ads would remain a primary emphasis of the company.
Musk has fired hundreds of Twitter employees, has expedited the debut of a subscription package that allows scammers to imitate major firms, and has punished users with whom he disagrees, all of which have scared brands away from spending on the network.
To diversify away from advertisements, the billionaire has concentrated on Twitter Blue, a subscription feature that costs users $8 per month to verify their accounts, although the product has had limited popularity.
Travis Brown, an independent researcher who has been following the number of Twitter Blue subscribers over time, estimates that there were 619,858 customers as of April 30.
Yaccarino did not make any comments.
Her departure is just another setback for NBCUniversal. Last month, NBC parent Comcast announced that NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was leaving after admitting to an inappropriate interaction with a female employee, prompting an investigation.
Mark Marshall, President of Advertising, will serve as interim Chairman of NBCUniversal’s advertising and partnerships group. Marshall was appointed president of ad sales and partnerships in 2018, with responsibility for NBC’s broadcast entertainment, sports, and advanced advertising sales.
Yaccarino’s departure comes at a tough moment for NBCUniversal, which is gearing up for its annual advertiser presentation on Monday at Radio City Music Hall.
Yaccarino joined NBCU in 2011, following 15 years at Turner Entertainment, and is credited with transitioning the network’s ad sales division into the digital era.
She took the stage at Radio City Music Hall last year to convince advertisers that their brand messages were not an afterthought as broadcast television audiences switched to streaming. She stated that NBCUniversal had always included advertisements in its Peacock streaming service.
“Twitter needs credibility with the advertising community,” said Greg Kahn, chief executive of GK Digital Ventures media consultancy. “Linda has demonstrated her trust, her innovative nature of bringing new partners to the table and a deep bench of relationships.”
Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc, finalised his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in October. On Friday, he stated that employing Yaccarino will allow him to devote more time to Tesla.
Musk tweeted on Thursday that he has chosen a CEO but did not name Yaccarino. According to a source close to Yaccarino, Musk’s post may have hastened the timeline for her to join Twitter, which would be good news for Tesla shareholders.
Tesla shares fell 2.4% to $167.98 on Friday, while Comcast shares down 0.4% to $40.21.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)