Who is Twitter’s new CEO? Inside Linda Yaccarino’s rise to replace Musk


Elon Musk’s search for a Twitter CEO is over after he announced Linda Yaccarino as the company’s new chief Friday—she is a seasoned ad executive whose arrival would likely soothe skittish advertisers following months of drastic overhauls to content moderation and verification, but whose background may alienate some of the billionaire’s loyal and free speech-loving fan base.
Linda Yaccarino is Twitter’s new CEO, Elon Musk says. Image: Getty
Key Takeaways
  • Yaccarino was chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal (NBCU), where she worked for more than a decade and managed a global team of 2,000 people who generated more than $100 billion in ad sales, according to her company profile (She parted ways with NBCU Friday morning).
  • Yaccarino and her team were instrumental in the launch of Peacock—NBCU’s ad-supported streaming platform—and have embraced new ways of measuring advertising performance, as well as forging partnerships with the likes of Apple News, Buzzfeed, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter, her profile said.
  • According to her LinkedIn profile, Yaccarino is also involved with the World Economic Forum, WEF, where she chairs the organization’s taskforce on the future of work and sits on the media, entertainment and culture industry governors steering committee.
  • The agenda-setting convener of industry, political and civic leaders, perhaps best known for its annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, has long been a lightning rod for baseless conspiracy theories and Yaccarino’s connection appears to irk some of Musk’s right-leaning or anarchist base, who suggest her background undermines the platform’s commitment to free speech championed under current leadership.
  • Yaccarino has also partnered with government on several occasions, first helping to promote healthy lifestyles as a member of the President’s Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition, appointed by former President Donald Trump, and later working with government agencies, the White House and Pope Francis to produce a Covid-19 vaccination campaign in her role as chair of nonprofit advertising group the Ad Council.
  • The executive’s connection to a pandemic-era vaccination campaign has also bothered proponents of Twitter’s more liberal content moderation policies, many of whom fear Yaccarino could bring back the stricter bars for misinformation that they struggled to clear before Musk did away with them.

Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022 and his tenure at the company’s helm can generously be described as turbulent. Musk assumed the mantle of chief executive as soon as he took over and immediately set about firing senior leadership, including then CEO Parag Agrawal. He has drastically cut headcount—it has reportedly dropped by around 80% to 90% of its former level—and overhauled content moderation to favour a more absolutist approach to free speech, a move that irked companies, advertisers and high profile users. Musk frequently used polls when making significant decisions early on in his Twitter tenure and following one in December that narrowly indicated he should step aside as CEO, he said he would search for a replacement. On Thursday, Musk tweeted he was “Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO,” though he did not name his successor. He said his successor—partially identified with the pronoun “she”—would start in around six weeks.

What To Watch For

Twitter’s new CEO comes at a time of change for Twitter, following months of drastic remodeling by Musk, a great deal of which soured the attitudes of users and advertisers alike. A key challenge lies in regaining the trust of advertisers, many of whom cut or suspended ad spending on Twitter when Musk weakened content moderation. Musk, who has reportedly faced pressure to back away from Twitter from shareholders at his electric car maker Tesla, whose shares have plummeted since the Twitter deal, said his role will transition to that of executive chair and chief technology officer once the new CEO starts. It’s not clear whether Yaccarino, or whoever succeeds Musk, will retain Musk’s controversial changes, particularly regarding content moderation, or will move back toward the platform’s former policies.

Forbes Valuation

$179.5 billion. That’s Musk’s estimated net worth, according to Forbes’ real time tracker. He is the second richest person in the world, behind French luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault and ahead of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Large portions of Musk’s wealth is tied to Tesla, which he cofounded and leads, though a notable portion of his Tesla stock has been pledged as collateral for loans. He also cofounded rocket firm SpaceX, tunneling startup Boring Company and neural interface firm Neuralink.

This story was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

Forbes Australia issue no.4 is out now. Tap here to secure your copy or become a member here.

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here.

More from Forbes Australia