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Who is Linda Yaccarino, Elon Musk’s Twitter CEO pick?


Former NBCUniversal marketing guru Linda Yaccarino has been friendlier with Elon Musk than most ad executives — and as Twitter’s new CEO it’s her job to convince colleagues across the industry to do business with him again.

Yaccarino, confirmed as Twitter’s next boss on Friday, has emerged as a key ally for Musk of late — even as he traded barbs with major advertisers who felt he hadn’t done enough to combat hate speech after his messy $44 billion acquisition of the company.

The budding rapport between the two was on display on April 18, when Yaccarino referred to the billionaire as her “buddy” while interviewing him onstage at the possible marketing conference in Miami Beach last month — and pressed Musk on his efforts to “de-risk” Twitter for ad partners.

The well-connected Yaccarino had previously defended Musk at an Ad Age conference last November, urging advertisers to give him a chance before cutting business ties with Twitter.

At the time, she said she was “obsessed” and “fascinated” by Musk’s Twitter takeover.

Yaccarino’s diplomatic skills will be put to the test at Twitter, where she will be asked to spearhead a chaotic, complex overhaul of the embattled company’s business.

The effort that will undoubtedly include a major campaign to repair Twitter’s relationships with wary advertisers who fled the platform following Musk’s $44 billion takeover.

“She has had extraordinary relationships with the agency community and brands directly.

This will bode well with what she will bring to Twitter,” MediaInk chairman and CEO Michael Kassin, who has known and worked with her for nearly two decades, told The Post.


Linda Yaccarino appeared alongside Musk at a Miami ad conference last month.
AP

Indeed, on the day of his April 18 interview with Yaccarino in Miami, Musk attended a lengthy private dinner with a group of elite advertising and marketing executives at the Faena Hotel’s private wine cellar La Cava.

During the gathering, Musk pushed back on claims that hate speech had increased on Twitter under his watch as “bogus,” The Post reported at the time.

The dinner occasionally turned heated, with one attendee saying some executives were left “shocked” and “appalled” by Musk’s “disregard” for hate speech and felt their concerns were dismissed.

However, the sources said the meeting was ultimately a productive step.

Yaccarino’s appointment as Twitter’s next CEO came hours after she resigned as NBCU’s advertising chief. A day earlier, Musk tweeted that he had already hired Twitter’s next CEO, who would be taking over the role in about “six weeks.”

By hiring Yaccarino, Musk-owned Twitter is gaining a “very decisive, very strong leader who is focused,” according to Kassin.


Linda Yaccarino
Linda Yaccarino resigned from NBCU this morning.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yaccarino is a “great team leader” who is well-liked in media circles,” he added.

Musk said Yaccarino will “focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.”

He added that Yaccarino will help “transform this platform into X, the everything app.”

Yaccarino has extensive experience in the world of digital advertising, having played a key role in the launch of NBCUniversal’s ad-supported streaming service, Peacock.

Her company bio notes that her team “has generated more than $100 billion in ad sales” since she joined the company in 2011.

“I guess she’s going to learn to live by the tweet,” Kassin added. “She’s demonstrated publicly that she’s had a relationship with [Musk]. She’s demonstrated an alliance.”

Yaccarino’s exit marked another setback for NBCUniversal, which was forced to abruptly fire its former longtime CEO, Jeff Shell, after he faced a sexual harassment complaint from former CNBC international anchor Hadley Gamble.


Linda Yaccarino
Yaccarino also works with the World Economic Forum.
AP

Yaccarino’s exit was not related to recent C-suite shakeup at NBCUniversal following Shell’s dismissal, the source close to the situation told The Post.

Additionally, Yaccarino left the company as rumors swirl that the media giant could look to divest Peacock as part of a possible combination with another streamer, such as WarnerBros.

Discovery’s combined Discovery-HBO Max streaming service or Paramount+.

Even if such a tie-up were to occur, the source close to the situation told The Post that Yaccarino and her team were not in danger of being cut loose at NBCUniversal in the potential upheaval.

Yaccarino’s jump to Twitter was an “opportunistic move,” the source said.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that would see her out of the ad sales realm — even though she’s more than that,” the source added.


Linda Yaccarino
Linda Yaccarino will likely be asked to soothe relations with advertisers.
Alex Martinez/NBCUniversal

A graduate of Penn State University, Yaccarino held various ad-focused roles at NBCUniversal over the last decade.

Prior to joining the media giant, she worked as an executive at Turner, whose assets are now owned by WarnerBros. Discovery.

Aside from her work in media, Yaccarino is employed by the World Economic Forum, serving as the international organization’s chair on the Taskforce on the Future of Work.

Yaccarino also had a previous stint as chairman of the nonprofit Ad Council. In 2018, she was appointed to former President Donald Trump’s council on sports, fitness and nutrition.



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