After months of speculation, Elon finally named Twitter’s new CEO, Linda Yaccarino. The move makes sense in some regards, and is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser in others.
Let’s first look at Yaccarino’s background, then look at where Elon wants to go with Twitter.
Who is Linda Yaccarino?
Here is Yaccarino’s LinkedIn profile to give you a sense of her work history. As you can see, she has a strong work history in advertising and media. She was previously at NBCUniversal for the last 12 years.
I suspect Elon is attracted to her skills in both media and attracting corporate advertisers. In fact he sort of hinted at this when describing how their roles would evolve, moving forward:
I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!@LindaYacc will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.
Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app. https://t.co/TiSJtTWuky
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2023
In other words, Linda will handle marketing, Elon will handle the product and tech behind it. And it seems advertisers are already reacting positively to the news of her hiring:
NEWS: Twitter biggest ad buyer & the world’s biggest ad agency no longer considers Twitter as a “high risk” platform with Linda Yaccarino set to become CEO. https://t.co/WTDXL8Mpib
— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) May 21, 2023
I will say this; Over the last few months, I have noticed that advertising from big brands has become more scarce in my feed, being replaced with ads from smaller companies I have never heard of. So I’m sure Elon is feeling a bit of the pinch of lost ad revenue, and I’m guessing that he wanted to hire a CEO who could court those advertisers back to the platform. Early signs are that the move is working.
As an aside, it is worth noting that Yaccarino has ties to the World Economic Forum, where she has run a committee and spoken. Many people (including myself) are very worried about the global plan that the WEF has in mind for the planet. My friend Carol Roth has a new book out that will delve into this topic that I would recommend, You Will Own Nothing. Yaccarino’s strong ties to the WEF are worrisome.
What will Twitter look like with Yaccarino as CEO?
This is where the rubber meets the road. No doubt, a strong focus of Yaccarino will be to bring back big brand advertisers to the platform. In order to do that, Yaccarino will need to placate fears that advertisers have about the platform, and Elon himself.
If her history is any indicator, she will look to do this via stronger content moderation.
— Crypto Macro (@cryptomacro14) May 16, 2023
Does this thinking feel like a step backwards to what content moderation looked like under Jack Dorsey? Yes it does. Notice in this clip, Yaccarino is talking about how the advertisers need to influence Twitter and how new ways needed to be created to let advertisers more or less partner with Twitter to shape the direction of the platform.
Where is the discussion of the influence that the USERS can have? Where is the interest in ensuring that the average Twitter user will have a voice in shaping the direction of Twitter in the future? I missed that discussion.
So I do expect to see tighter content moderation on Twitter, at least in the short-term. Elon has said he is against the type of overbearing content moderation we saw under Dorsey, so it will be interesting to see this tug of war over free speech and content moderation play out. Also, let’s recall that as recently as a few weeks ago, Elon was openly tweeting that Twitter was headed toward bankruptcy if revenue didn’t improve. Obviously, he’s trying to unwind the mess left to him, as well as deal from some fallout of his own making. So I wouldn’t assume that the moves made by Twitter over the next few months are a completely accurate representation of what we will see from Twitter over the next say 5 years. Desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.
What is Elon’s future plan for Twitter?
Elon has been pretty transparent about wanting to create an ‘everything’ app called X. It appears that what Elon wants to do is expand out and offer an app that provides content creation and exchange in multiple formats (text, audio and video). Additionally, it would have a dedicated eCommerce layer, in fact Twitter has already applied to be able to facilitate payments on the platform.
What’s a bit up in the air (I wonder if Elon has even figured this out) is if Twitter would be the foundation of that app, or simply one of its pillars. In other words, will Twitter transition into the ‘X’ everything app, or would Twitter be folded into a suite of other apps, that each add a separate layer of functionality to the larger X experience?
I think for the next 3-6 months, Twitter is in financial damage control mode with advertisers. The goal will be to bring back big brand advertisers, and increase revenue. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Elon trying some more monetary shenanigans with Twitter Blue or maybe to being charging for the core functionality of Twitter. Again, desperate times call for desperate measures.
But after a period of time and the monetary stress starts to pass, I think you will see Elon go back into acquisition mode. When that happens, pay close attention to how these new acquisitions would relate to Twitter. Are they additions that would blend into Twitter and enhance the platform, or are they standalone apps that could work with Twitter, but without being directly integrated. I think this will give us strong signals as to whether Twitter will become X or if Twitter will become a PART of X.
Either way, the rest of 2023 should be very interesting for Twitter. I really hope Elon can work this out, as I have been trying to spend more time on Twitter since his takeover, and it truly is a platform that I once loved and would hope I could again.