- By Natalie Sherman and Shiona McCallum
- BBC News
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, will oversee business operations at the site, which has struggled to make money.
He said he would start in six weeks.
Mr Musk will remain involved as executive chairman and chief technology officer.
“Looking forward to working with Linda to make this platform X, the everything app,” he wrote on Twitterconfirming the decision a day after he 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 – is under pressure to find someone else to lead the company and refocus his attention on his other businesses, which include the electric carmaker that Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX.
With less than 9% of Fortune 500 tech companies led by women, Ms Yaccarino will be such a rare example of a woman at the top of a major tech firm, after steadily rising through the ranks of some of the biggest companies of media in America.
Who is Linda Yaccarino?
A graduate of Penn State who now lives outside New York City on Long Island, he worked at Turner Entertainment for 15 years before joining NBCUniversal, where he supervised approximately 2,000 people, and was involved in the launch of its streaming service.
His work is marked by working closely with big brands, finding opportunities for product placement and convincing them to advertise alongside television shows – even those with a reputation for edgy content, such as Sex and the City when it first launched.
A 2005 profile in an industry publication described her as a busy, married mother-of-two, then aged 13 and 9.
“I had absolutely no hobbies,” he said at the time.
Business Insider’s Claire Atkinson has followed Ms Yaccarino’s career for two decades and says her background in advertising could help Twitter, which has seen its ad sales drop sharply since Mr Musk took over.
“If Twitter is looking to make money better than ever, that would be the place to start and Linda would be the perfect person to do that,” said the chief media correspondent.
“He’s the kind of person I think Elon Musk needs,” added Ms Atkinson. “He will not be disturbed.”
Ms Yaccarino will face the difficult challenge of running a business struggling to make a profit, while facing intense scrutiny over how Twitter handles the spread of misinformation and manages hate speech.
Critics raised concerns after Mr Musk fired staff tasked with tracking abuse and began charging for blue ticks, which used to be the sign of a verified account.
Mr Musk acknowledged the “huge” drop in profits, although he told the BBC last month that companies were bouncing back.
At an advertising conference last month, Ms Yaccarino interviewed Mr Musk and pressed him on what he was doing to reassure companies that their brands were not at risk..
“The people in this room are your fast track to profitability,” he said. “But there was a decent bit of skepticism in the room.”
There was also some instant skepticism of Ms Yaccarino’s appointment on social media.
His work for the World Economic Forum, an organization viewed negatively as “globalist” by the right wing, was not well received in some quarters along with his role in a vaccination campaign featuring Pope Francis.
Others have questioned his political involvement in a White House sports, fitness and nutrition council under former President Donald Trump.
Mr Musk, who has also put women in top positions at SpaceX and Tesla, is known as a notoriously unpredictable and demanding boss.
Ms Atkinson said the two Twitter executives would face “difficult conversations” about how to deal with 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.