Why NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino Makes Sense As New Twitter CEO (But Only For Elon Musk)

NBCUniversal’s head of advertising, Linda Yaccarino, is reportedly in talks to become the new CEO of Twitter, after Elon Musk tweeted that he’s hired a female executive to be the next chief of the social media platform in six weeks.

Yaccarino, NBCU’s head of global advertising and partnerships, has been an industry advocate for improved ways to measure the impact of advertising for more than a decade. She was instrumental in the introduction of NBCU’s ad-supported Peacock streaming service as the company’s head of advertising sales.

Musk’s announcement came only days before the NBCU’s annual pitch event for advertisers, known as the upfront, which is set to take place Monday in New York.

Following Musk’s takeover of Twitter last year, many advertisers delayed their expenditure for fear that he might decrease content regulation, or for fear of the company’s direction under its new leadership. Some corporations claim to have restarted spending on Twitter, while others claim to have paused spending on the platform.

Yaccarino’s first task as CEO would be to entice advertisers, who have traditionally contributed the majority of Twitter’s revenue. Advertising accounted for over 85% of Twitter’s revenue in 2021, the year before Musk took the firm private. According to The Wall Street Journal, Twitter’s revenue and adjusted earnings fell by nearly 40% year over year in December. In April, Musk stated that Twitter may be cash-flow positive as early as this quarter.

According to market-intelligence firm Sensor Tower, 37 of the top 100 advertisers on Twitter before Musk bought the company spent nothing on Twitter advertising during the first quarter of this year, while an additional 24 brands dropped their average monthly Twitter ad spending by 80% or more.

Musk said he would take the executive chairman and the chief technology officer positions once the new CEO steps in.

Musk vs. CEO

Currently, Musk is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. While he’s a co-founder and owner of Neuralink, his longtime confidante Jared Birchall serves as its CEO. It has long been a concern for the other companies, most especially the Tesla investors, when Musk bought Twitter and assumed the CEO role, arguably spreading himself too thin and losing focus.

When Musk took over Twitter, he almost instantly fired the top executives, including then-CEO Parag Agrawal. A month after, Musk floated the idea of him stepping back and allowing someone else to run Twitter. But back then, he thought “there’s an initial burst of activity needed post-acquisition to reorganize the company.”

“But then I expect to reduce my time at Twitter,” he added.

However, there’s no clarity yet on the timeline. In a follow up tweet, Musk clarified that he will continue to run the social media platform “until it is in a strong place, which will take some time.”

Between then and now, Musk was able to implement drastic changes in the company, including a massive 3,700-job cuts, recalibrating the blue checkmark into a subscription model, and reinstating previously banned accounts.

Pre-Musk era Twitter historically earned more than 85% of its annual revenue from advertising. According to estimates from Pathmatics as reported by Bloomberg, the platform’s top 10 advertisers spent $71 million on ads from September to October last year.

Fast forward to the present day, Pathmatics estimates the same figure to only be around $7.6 million in the past two months, which marks an 89% fall from the final two months before Musk took control. It was reported in January that over 500 of Twitter’s advertisers have suspended spending on the platform since late October last year, resulting in a 50% drop in revenue, according to Musk.

Musk, who vowed to unlock the revenue potential of Twitter when he bought it, is still struggling in making the platform earn enough to cover the payments of the acquisition deal.

Since assuming control of Twitter, Musk has cut costs. He’s fired half the company’s employees, refused to pay rent on the company’s other offices around the world, and refused to pay some outstanding bills, including a jet charter.

Twitter had reportedly failed to pay $3.36 million in December rent and $3.42 million in January rent for its offices at 1355 Market Street in San Francisco, California. This pushed the building owner Sri Nine Market Square LLC to file a lawsuit in state court.

This came as Twitter was about to make its first interest payment on the $12.5 billion in debt used by Musk to take the social media firm private last year. The corporation paid a group of seven banks, led by Morgan Stanley, who were unable to sell the debt to outside investors and were left with it.

Will an ad head add?

The revenue problem might be a critical reason why Yaccarino is being considered (or hired) to head Twitter. Yaccarino, who handles around $13 billion in annual ad revenue, is well-known for her close working relationships with marketers and ad agencies. Yaccarino is known for her tough negotiation skills, and media buyers have dubbed her the “velvet hammer.”

Yaccarino interviewed Musk onstage last month at a conference in Miami Beach, Florida, asking about his vision for Twitter and pressing him on his own sometimes-controversial comments.

“Elon has committed to being accessible to everyone for continual feedback,” Yaccarino said near the end of the onstage interview.

“If freedom of speech, as he says, is the bedrock of this country, I’m not sure there’s anyone in this room who could disagree with that,” she added.

Following Musk’s interview, Yaccarino was all praise for Musk and how Twitter is committed to “free speech,” “accountability,” and “ultimate transparency.”

Yaccarino graduated from Penn State University, where she majored in liberal arts and telecommunications. She began her career at Turner Broadcasting System, where she worked in sales and marketing. She joined NBCUniversal in 1999 and quickly ascended through the ranks.

She was appointed president of entertainment advertising sales at NBCUniversal in 2007. She was in charge of all advertising sales for the company’s entertainment content, including broadcast, cable, and digital. She was also in charge of creating new advertising items and platforms. Yaccarino was appointed to NBCUniversal’s chairman of global advertising and partnerships in 2011.

Yaccarino is well noted for his friendship with former US President Donald Trump, and was one of the people Trump appointed to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition for a two-year term.

While he’s hired a new CEO, Musk also stated previously that he would not relinquish control of the platform, saying that he would continue to be responsible for product, software, and system operations.

Information for this briefing was found via The Wall Street Journal, India Today, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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