Musk nabbed former NBCUniversal CEO Yaccarino as Twitter’s new CEO

(Reuters) – Elon Musk has named former NBC Universal advertising director Linda Iaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter, as the company tries to reverse a decline in advertising revenue.

Yaccarino will take on a challenging social media platform and a heavy debt burden, after spending several years modernizing the advertising business at NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O).

“I am excited to welcome Belinda Iaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk said in a tweet on Friday. @LindaYacc I will focus primarily on business operations, while focusing on product design and new technology.

Since Musk acquired Twitter in October, advertisers have fled the social media platform, worried that their ads might appear alongside inappropriate content after the company lost nearly 80% of its staff. Musk acknowledged earlier this year that Twitter had suffered a massive drop in ad revenue.

Lou Pascalis, an advertising industry executive and CEO of AJL Consulting, a marketing consulting firm, said that “the trajectory of Twitter will immediately take a 180-degree turn” under her leadership.

“I think (Yaccarino) climbed every mountain she could in NBCU and did it very well. And there is no greater challenge than restoring order on Twitter,” he said.

While Musk has said Yaccarino will help build an “everything app,” which he previously said could offer a variety of services such as peer-to-peer payments, his selection of an ad expert suggests that digital advertising will continue to be a primary focus of the business. .

Musk fired thousands of Twitter employees, rushed the launch of a subscription product that allowed scammers to impersonate big brands and suspended users he disagreed with, all of which scared brands out of spending on the platform.

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In order to diversify away from advertising, the billionaire has focused on Twitter Blue, a subscription feature that costs users $8 per month to verify their accounts, but the product has had limited success.

Independent researcher Travis Browne, who tracks the number of blue Twitter subscribers over time, estimated There were 619,858 customers as of April 30th.

Iaccarino could not be reached for comment.


Her exit is another big blow for NBCUniversal. Last month, NBC parent Comcast said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was leaving after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a woman at the company, following a complaint that prompted an investigation.

Chief advertising officer Mark Marshall will take over as interim president of NBCUniversal’s Advertising and Partnerships group. Marshall was named President of Advertising Sales and Partnerships in 2018, overseeing NBC’s broadcast television, sports, and advanced advertising sales.

Yaccarino’s exit comes at a difficult time for NBCUniversal, which is preparing for its annual show for advertisers Monday at Radio City Music Hall.

Yaccarino joined NBCU in 2011, after 15 years at Turner Entertainment, and has been credited with moving the network’s advertising sales operation into the digital age.

As broadcast TV audiences transition to broadcast, I took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall last year to tell advertisers that their brand messaging wasn’t an afterthought. She said NBCUniversal had included ads in Peacock’s streaming service from the start.

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“Twitter needs to gain credibility with the advertising community,” said Greg Kahn, CEO of media consultancy GK Digital Ventures. “Linda has demonstrated her confidence and innovative nature in bringing new partners to the table and a deep platform of relationships.”

Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), completed the Twitter purchase in October for $44 billion. He said on Friday that hiring Yaccarino would allow him to spend more time running Tesla.

On Thursday, Musk wrote on Twitter that he had found a CEO, without naming Iaccarino. A person close to Yaccarino said Musk’s tweet may have accelerated the timeline for her to join Twitter, which would be a balm for Tesla shareholders.

Tesla shares closed down 2.4% at $167.98 on Friday, while Comcast shares fell 0.4% to $40.21.

Additional reporting by Tyachi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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