Former NBCU Ad Exec Linda Yaccarino Is Twitter’s New CEO

Yaccarino has advocated for change in the advertising industry and for greater measurement capabilities.

Linda Yaccarino smiles wearing glasses and an orange dress.
Linda Yaccarino worked at NBCUniversal for more than a decade. Getty Images

Elon Musk has hired Linda Yaccarino, the former NBCUniversal chairman of global advertising and partnerships, as Twitter’s new CEO, he said in a tweet today (May 12). Yaccarino left her position at NBCUniversal this morning.

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Musk teased the news that he selected a new CEO yesterday, and reports suggested Yaccarino was the likely candidate. Reactions from analysts were largely positive. “We believe that this would be a (home run) hire for Twitter and fit in very well to the overall Twitter strategy and monetization looking ahead,” Wedbush Securities analysts Daniel Ives, John Katsingris and Steven Wahrhaftig said in a statement.

Musk will remain at the company as chief technology officer and executive chairman, focusing primarily on product design and new technology, he said on Twitter. As the new “Chief Twit,” which Musk called himself when he bought the company in October, Yaccarino will begin in about six weeks and oversee business operations, he said. In Musk taking a step back from Twitter, his other businesses Tesla and SpaceX will feel the positive effects, according to the Wedbush analysts.

Twitter could benefit from an advertising executive like Yaccarino running its business. The company’s profit relies on advertising and subscriptions, and both revenue streams appear to be floundering. When Musk bought the company, Twitter lost some of its high profile advertisers—including General Motors, General Mills and United Airlines—and their return to Twitter is happening slowly. Musk isn’t totally to blame. The company’s advertising offerings were lacking before he took over. But his Twitter Blue subscription business, a potential answer to the platform’s revenue problems, hasn’t gained the traction necessary to pull Twitter out of the hole. Yaccarino’s preexisting relationships with media buyers and her experience overseeing billions in ad revenue could be advantageous to the social media service.

Musk and Yaccarino have had encounters in the past. Last month, she interviewed him at an event in Miami. In November, she defended the tech mogul by asking the ad industry to “give the guy a minute” as advertisers increasingly pulled away from the app.

Yaccarino will face challenges as Twitter’s new CEO, especially in its digital advertising business and in monetizing its user base, said the Wedbush analysts. “Twitter needs a CEO that can hit the ground running and try to turnaround the Twitter platform with a key 6 to 12 months ahead,” they said.

What did Linda Yaccarino accomplish at NBCUniversal?

Yaccarino had been with NBCUniversal since 2011 in various advertising positions. In her most recent position, she oversaw a team of 2,000 workers, which is more than Twitter’s headcount. Since she joined the company, her team has generated more than $100 billion in ad sales, according to her profile on the company site. She helped launch Peacock’s ad-supported tier and a video buying and selling service called One Platform.

She has been an advocate of change in the advertising industry, telling media buyers to forget old models of siloing networks and media types, she said at the Ad Age Next: Streaming conference last year. The future of advertising is built on partnerships rather than exclusivity, she said in an internal Comcast (CMCSA) interview. Yaccarino has also championed updated measurement capabilities in the industry.

Mark Marshall, NBCUniversal’s president of advertising sales and client partnerships, will take Yaccarino’s position in interim. Marshall has been with the company since 2014 and worked at Turner Sports, now known as Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, for 14 years before that.

Former NBCU Ad Exec Linda Yaccarino Is Twitter’s New CEO