Twitter may soon have an ad sales veteran in charge, after months of hemorrhaging advertisers under owner Elon Musk.
Linda Yaccarino, a longtime media executive, is leaving her role as chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal amid reports that Musk has selected her to take over as CEO of Twitter.
“It has been an absolute honor to be part of Comcast NBCUniversal and lead the most incredible team,” she said in a statement Friday. “We’ve transformed our company and the entire industry.”
Musk on Thursday said he had found a new CEO to take over Twitter, months after he first promised to step back from the role. He said the CEO would be starting in about six weeks.
Musk did not name the potential CEO, but the Wall Street Journal reported that Yaccarino was in talks for the role.
Here’s what you should know about Yaccarino.
Musk has clashed with mainstream media outlets and also said he hates advertising. But Yaccarino represents both those worlds.
Yaccarino has been at NBCUniversal for more than 11 years, returning to the company where she started as a college intern. Before that she was executive vice president/COO of advertising sales, marketing and acquisitions at Turner Broadcasting, which included CNN at that time.
At NBCUniversal, she oversees a 2,000-member global team, according to her company profile. That would be more people on her team than are left working at Twitter, which Musk said in an interview with the BBC last month is down to 1,500 people after multiple layoffs under his watch.
NBCUniversal’s ad sales team has generated $100 billion in ad sales since she joined in 2011, according to her profile, and forged partnerships with many new media companies including Twitter as well as Apple News, Buzzfeed, Snapchat and YouTube.
Last month she appeared with Musk at an industry conference for a session entitled “Twitter 2.0: From Conversations to Partnerships.”
Yaccarino’s most notable achievement at NBCUniversal is creating unified ad sales teams rather than having 15 different sales teams approach the same advertisers.
“We were difficult to do business with,” she said in an interview with Salesforce describing the consolidation.
The choice of Yaccarino may hint at Musk recognizing the limitations of his efforts to make Twitter less dependent on advertising.
Ad sales represented more than 90% of the company’s revenue before Musk purchased it in October. But many advertisers have fled the site since then.
Earlier this year digital marketing analysis firm Pathmatics by Sensor Tower reported that 625 of the top 1,000 Twitter advertisers, including major brands such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Jeep, Wells Fargo and Merck, had pulled their ad dollars, based data through January 25. Monthly revenue from those previous top 1,000 advertisers plummeted by more than 60% from October through January 25, from around $127 million to just over $48 million, according to the data.
Many advertisers have been concerned with Musk’s severe staff cuts, the apparent rise of hate speech, and controversial policy decisions, including his move to invite users back to Twitter who had previously been banned.
General Motors said it would pause paying for advertising on Twitter while it evaluates the platform’s “new direction.” Musk blamed the exodus on “activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation.”
Musk has tried to increase revenue by racing to bolster its subscription business, charging for the blue checkmarks that verify a user’s identity, with limited success. As a result, he may have little choice but to revive Twitter’s relationships with advertisers and boost its core advertising business.
Musk has previously spoken about improving ad sales by focusing more on the relevance of its ads.
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