Current Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced that he will pass the torch to advertising executive Linda Yaccarino. She will assume the role in six weeks and will "focus primarily on business operations," while Musk focuses "on product design and new technology," according to a tweet by Musk.
Musk had a turbulent time as CEO of Twitter, from requiring payments for blue checkmarks to reinstating problematic accounts that were once banned. In turn, a number of large advertisers pulled out of the platform, leaving the app's financial future uncertain. Musk announced he would step down from his position after he found a replacement back in December following a poll he created that resulted in the public wanting him out.
Yaccarino has a robust background in advertising, likely to reconcile the company from the mass exodus of advertisers from the platform. However, some are wondering whether her appointment is an indication of Twitter's downfall.
Her days before Twitter
Yaccarino served as the advertising chief of NBCUniversal for 11 years prior to accepting Twitter's offer. In her position, she acted as the "strategic and operational bridge across the entirety of NBCUniversal's global networks, properties and business units," according to her LinkedIn profile. Part of her position was to oversee ad sales all over the world for the services under the NBCU umbrella including Bravo TV, Peacock, Syfy and USA, per The Washington Post. She was also responsible for unifying the advertising team for the company, managing a team of 2,000 people, more than the total number of people currently working at Twitter, CNN reported.
"She has one of the biggest jobs in advertising, and the ad market is as hard as it's ever been," Joe Marchese, the former head of ad sales at the Fox Networks Group, told The New York Times. During her time at NBCU, she generated over $100 billion in ad sales, according to CBS News. Many hope that Yaccarino's experience can bring Twitter out of its advertising fiasco. "She is exactly what Twitter needs to start rebuilding advertiser trust, bring back big advertisers and really start improving Twitter's ad business," commented Jasmine Enberg, an analyst at Insider Intelligence, to The Associated Press.
Ironically, Yaccarino has also been critical of social media platforms and Big Tech companies, including Facebook and Google, for "grading their own homework" and stealing advertising from TV networks despite being more "self-regulated," per Wired. Yaccarino called out social media for running ads before questionable content. "Brand safety is a really low bar, and some companies can't even do that," she said. On the flip side, she aligns politically with Musk, advocating for more free speech on the app and identifies as a conservative, according to the Times.
While her experience shows promise, many wonder whether Twitter is too far gone to fix and, more ominously, whether Yaccarino will be the scapegoat.
The 'glass cliff'
Many are worried about whether Yaccarino's appointment is a way for Musk to avoid responsibility for Twitter's problems. This is known as the "glass cliff" theory, which is "a theory that women — as well as underrepresented minorities — are more likely to be hired for leadership jobs when there's a crisis, which sets them up for failure," as defined by the AP.
"I mean no disrespect to her or to diminish her in the least. I just think that this is an impossible situation for basically anybody," commented Jo-Ellen Pozner, a business professor at Santa Clara University to the AP. Yaccarino has a lot of work to do to recover both advertisers and users to the platform. In addition, Musk will still be heavily involved in Twitter, raising questions as to how much Yaccarino will be able to change. "He's created chaos. He's eliminated internal controls. He's eliminated critical functions like content moderation. He's made the user experience very unpredictable. He's allowed dangerous voices to flourish," Pozner added. "Nobody — man, woman, alien — is going to be able to right this ship given these circumstances."
According to analysis firm Pathmatics, 625 of the top 1,000 Twitter advertisers pulled ads from Twitter, causing revenue to drop 60% between October and January. "With her stature in the industry as probably one of the most beloved and trusted people on the revenue side, I question why she would subject herself to that kind of potential reputational risk," Lou Paskalis, a longtime ad executive, told the Times.
"There is heavy lifting ahead for Twitter on the digital advertising front, as the platform now needs to get back advertisers while monetizing its user base," Wedbush technology analyst Dan Ives told CBS News. "Twitter needs a CEO that can hit the ground running and try to turn around the Twitter platform with a key 6 to 12 months ahead."