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    Friday, May 12, 2023

    Twitter CEO Could Be Replaced by NBCUniversal's Linda Yaccarino

    NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino is in talks to become Twitter's chief executive officer, the Wall Street Journal reported, following owner Elon Musk's announcement that he had found a new leader for the social network and will shift into the role of chief technologist.

    In a tweet on Thursday, Musk said the company's new CEO will start in about six weeks, without naming the individual. Yaccarino, who is chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal Media, didn't respond to an email seeking comment, and a representative for NBCUniversal said she was in rehearsals for the company's upfront presentation to advertisers next week.

    Yaccarino joined NBCUniversal in 2011 after nearly two decades at Turner Broadcasting. At NBCUniversal, she helped launch the ad-supported streaming service Peacock and oversaw live events like the Super Bowl and Olympic Games. Yaccarino also led partnerships with a variety of tech companies including Snapchat, YouTube, and, of course, Twitter.

    If Yaccarino is the one Musk chose, his tweet came at an awkward time for the executive. NBCUniversal is scheduled to give its annual presentation to advertisers at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Monday. The upfront events, which span the week, are when major media companies begin selling advertising for the fall TV season.

    This year's presentations were already challenged by a screenwriters' strike that could result in major delays in TV production and schedules. NBCUniversal's event is expected to focus heavily on online advertising, as the company further promotes its lineup of movies and TV shows on Peacock.

    NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast, was rocked just last month by the firing of its chief executive officer, Jeff Shell, over a sexual harassment complaint leveled by an employee.

    Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last October and indicated that he'd only be in charge for a limited time to complete the organizational overhaul he thought the company needed to prosper. Musk complained of having “too much work” and sleeping at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters while implementing radical changes.

    In December, Musk asked his Twitter followers if he should step down as CEO and 57.5 percent said yes. The billionaire will remain executive chairman after the transition.

    Musk, who's also CEO of Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has drawn criticism for his abrupt policy changes at Twitter and neglect of his other businesses.

    He's also changed the corporate name of Twitter's parent to X Holdings, an entity that could eventually be the parent for all his businesses — an idea he has publicly mused about. Musk has also said he wants to build Twitter beyond social media and into an “everything app,” including financial services.

    The next CEO will have to deal with the fallout from his ownership, including an advertiser exodus. Despite a slight uptick in daily users since early 2022, Twitter's revenue has fallen by 50 percent since October as a result of a “massive decline” in advertising, Musk said in March.

    The company's Twitter Blue subscription service plan has also been flailing, drawing less than 1 percent of the user base. Musk has cut thousands of jobs, scaled back the company's content moderation, and allowed accounts previously banned for breaking rules to return.

    Musk already has a friendly relationship with Yaccarino, who interviewed him last month at a major advertising conference in Miami and called him “friend” and “buddy” on stage. Recently, Twitter and NBCU expanded their Olympic Games partnership.

    “I can say that she would be my first choice, and my only choice, to save the platform from the hands of its owner,” said Lou Paskalis, who advises marketers as chief strategy officer at Ad Fontes Media, on Twitter. “I still cannot understand why she'd subject herself to @elonmusk, however!”

    Puck News' Dylan Byers also reported via a tweet that Musk planned to name Yaccarino as Twitter's CEO, citing two people familiar with the matter.   © Bloomberg

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