Elon Musk is in talks to hire Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal’s head of advertising, as Twitter’s new chief executive, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The billionaire has been Twitter chief executive since his $44bn acquisition of the company in October but signalled his position would be temporary. Without naming a successor, Musk wrote on Twitter on Thursday: “Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
He added that he would move to be executive chair and chief technology officer, “overseeing product, software and sysops [systems operations]”.
Yaccarino did not reply to an email seeking comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported she was in discussions for the job.
Musk and Yaccarino recently appeared together at a conference in Miami where they gave a keynote speech titled “Twitter 2.0: From Conversations to Partnerships”. They seemed to have a good rapport onstage, with Yaccarino displaying a flair for showmanship, according to people who saw the presentation.
The announcement comes as shareholders of Tesla, the electric-car maker that Musk also runs, have increasingly put pressure on him to return his focus to that company, whose shares have fallen 30 per cent over the past year. Tesla’s stock jumped about 2 per cent on news of the Twitter chief.
Twitter investors and bankers have also been keen for Musk to select new management as soon as possible, according to people familiar with the matter.
Musk in December said he would resign as Twitter’s chief executive as soon as he found someone “foolish enough to take the job”, after polling users over whether he should quit the role. The poll drew 17.5mn votes, with 57.5 per cent calling for him to step aside.
His six months at the helm of Twitter have been marked by a significant shake-up in which he reduced its headcount by about 90 per cent and relaxed content moderation. The moves alienated some high-profile users and advertisers, hitting the social media platform’s revenue.
Musk has oscillated between attempting to court advertisers in order to bolster Twitter’s main source of revenues and taking public swipes at marketers for pulling back from the platform over their moderation concerns.
Yaccarino, who has been at NBCUniversal for nearly 12 years according to her LinkedIn page, is one of few advertising executives to come out batting for Musk. In November, shortly after the takeover, she said she “wouldn’t bet against” the billionaire and that people should “give the guy a minute”, according to reports at the time.
Musk in March said Twitter’s finances were improving following his cost-cutting efforts, to the point that the company could return to posting positive cash flow next quarter. He has also announced several new features in recent weeks, including encrypted messaging.