Elon Musk has named a new chief executive of Twitter, just over six months after his controversial takeover of the social media company.
The billionaire said Linda Yaccarino, the former head of advertising at NBCUniversal, would oversee business operations at the site, which has been struggling to make money.
He said she would start in six weeks.
Mr Musk will remain involved as executive chairman and chief technology officer.
“Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app,” he wrote on Twitter, confirming the decision a day after he had stoked speculation by writing that he had found a new boss without revealing their identity.
Mr Musk – who bought the social media platform last year for $44bn – had been under pressure to find someone else to lead the company and refocus his attention on his other businesses, which include electric carmaker Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX.
With less than 9% of Fortune 500 tech companies headed by women, Ms Yaccarino will become that rare example of a woman at the top of a major tech firm, after rising steadily through the ranks of some of America’s biggest media companies.
Who is Linda Yaccarino?
A graduate of Penn State who now lives outside of New York City on Long Island, she worked at Turner Entertainment for 15 years before joining NBCUniversal, where she oversaw roughly 2,000 people, and was involved with the launch of its streaming service.
Her work has been marked by close collaborations with big brands, finding opportunities for product placement and convincing them to advertise alongside television shows – even ones with a reputation for edgy content, such as Sex and the City when it first launched.
A 2005 profile in an industry publication portrayed her as a busy, married mother-of-two children, then aged 13 and 9.
“I have absolutely no hobbies,” she said at the time.
Business Insider’s Claire Atkinson has followed Ms Yaccarino’s career for two decades and said her background in advertising could help Twitter, which has seen its ad sales drop sharply since Mr Musk’s takeover.
“If Twitter are looking to monetise better than they have been, then that would be the place to start and Linda would be the ideal person to make that happen,” the chief media correspondent said.
“She’s the kind of person that I can imagine Elon Musk needs,” Ms Atkinson added. “She won’t be rolled over.”
Ms Yaccarino will face the difficult challenge of running a business that has struggled to be profitable, while facing intense scrutiny over how Twitter handles the spread of misinformation and manages hate speech.
Critics voiced concerns after Mr Musk fired staff tasked with tracking abuse and began charging for blue ticks, previously a sign of an authenticated account.
Mr Musk has acknowledged “massive” declines in revenue, though he told the BBC last month that companies were returning.
At an advertising conference last month Ms Yaccarino interviewed Mr Musk and pressed him on what he was doing to reassure firms that their brands would not be exposed to risk.
“The people in this room are your accelerated path to profitability,” she said. “But there’s a decent bit of sceptics in the room.”
There has also been some instant scepticism at Ms Yaccarino’s appointment on social media.
Her work for the World Economic Forum, an organisation viewed negatively as “globalist” by the right wing, has not been well-received in some quarters along with her role in a vaccination campaign featuring Pope Francis.
Others have questioned her political involvement in a White House sports, fitness and nutrition council under former President Donald Trump.
Mr Musk, who has also put women in senior positions at SpaceX and Tesla, is known to be a notoriously unpredictable and demanding boss.
Ms Atkinson said the two Twitter executives would be facing “difficult conversations” about how to handle moderation, especially with the 2024 presidential election approaching in the US.
“How long Linda can last under these tricky management situations is anyone’s guess,” Ms Atkinson said.
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