Musk names ex-NBC Universal advertising head Yaccarino as new Twitter CEO

May 12 (Reuters) – Elon Musk has named former NBC Universal advertising chief Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s new CEO as the company tries to reverse a decline in advertising revenue.

After spending years modernizing the advertising business at Comcast Corp ( CMCSA.O )-owned NBCUniversal, Yaccarino will take over a social media platform beset with challenges and heavy debt.

“I’m excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s new CEO!” Musk said in a tweet Friday. “@LindaYacc will focus primarily on business operations, while I will focus on product design and new technology.”

Since Musk acquired Twitter in October, advertisers have left the social media platform after the company lost nearly 80% of its employees, worried that their ads might appear next to inappropriate content. Musk acknowledged earlier this year that Twitter had experienced a massive decline in ad revenue.

Twitter’s “trajectory immediately took a 180-degree turn” under his leadership, said Lou Paskalis, a longtime advertising industry executive and CEO of marketing consulting firm AJL Advisory.

“(Yaccarino) has climbed every mountain he can at NBCU and I think he’s done it well. And there’s no bigger challenge than restoring order to Twitter,” he said.

While Musk said Yacarino would help build an “all-in-one app” that previously said it could offer a variety of services, such as peer-to-peer payments, his choice of an ad experience signaled that digital ads will continue to be a key focus. of business.

Musk has fired thousands of Twitter employees, quickly rolled out a subscription product that allowed fraudsters to impersonate major brands, and suspended users he disagreed with, all of which have discouraged brands from spending on the platform.

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Moving away from ads, the billionaire has focused on Twitter Blue, an $8-a-month subscription feature to verify users’ accounts, but the product has had limited success.

Travis Browne, an independent researcher who tracks the number of Twitter Blue subscribers over time, is estimated As of April 30, there were 619,858 customers.

Yaccarino could not be reached for comment.


His exit is another big win for NBCUniversal. Last month, NBC’s parent Comcast said it was leaving NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Schell, following a complaint that sparked an investigation after he admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a woman at the company.

Advertising chief Mark Marshall will step in as interim head of NBCUniversal’s advertising and partnerships group. Marshall was named president of advertising sales and partnerships in 2018, overseeing NBC’s broadcast entertainment, sports and advanced advertising sales.

Yaccarino’s exit comes at a difficult time for NBCUniversal, which is gearing up for its annual presentation to advertisers Monday at Radio City Music Hall.

Turner joined NBCU in 2011 after 15 years in entertainment and is credited with leading the network’s ad sales operation into the digital era.

As broadcast television audiences migrate to streaming, he told advertisers on stage at Radio City Music Hall last year that their brand messages are no longer an afterthought. NBCUniversal has incorporated ads into its Peacock streaming service from the beginning, he said.

“Twitter needs credibility with the advertising community,” said Greg Kahn, chief executive of media consultancy GK Digital Ventures. “Linda has proven her credibility, her innovative nature in bringing new partners to the table, and her deep bench of relationships.”

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Musk, chief executive of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ), bought Twitter for $44 billion in October. Hiring Yaccarino will allow him to spend more time running Tesla, he said Friday.

On Thursday, Musk tweeted that he had found a CEO without identifying Yaccarino. A person close to Yaccarino said Musk’s tweet may have accelerated the timetable for his joining Twitter, which would be salutary for Tesla shareholders.

Shares of Tesla closed down 2.4% at $167.98 on Friday, while Comcast shares were down 0.4% at $40.21.

Report by Tyashi Dutta in Bangalore; Cinematography by Anil de Silva

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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