Elon Musk is in talks to hire Linda Yacarino, chairman of NBCUniversal’s global advertising and partnerships, as Twitter’s chief executive, two people familiar with the matter said.
Talks are at an advanced stage, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversation is confidential. Ms. Yacarino has been in discussions with Mr. Musk for weeks, they said. Ms. Yaccarino interviewed Mr. Musk on stage at an ad campaign in Miami last month.
Mr Musk has explain Earlier Thursday, he had picked a CEO for Twitter, but did not disclose the executive’s identity. In a tweet, he said “she will start in 6 weeks!” He added that he would stay on as executive chairman and “CTO” (often referred to as CTO), and that he would still oversee Twitter’s products and software.
Mr. Musk and Ms. Yacarino did not respond to requests for comment.wall street journal earlier reported Ms. Yaccarino is in talks with Mr. Musk.
Mr Musk, who bought Twitter last year for $44 billion, would keep a firm grip on the company even with a chief executive. As Twitter’s owner, he made his mark on the company by laying off more than 75% of its 7,500 employees, installing his own leaders and changing the service’s features and strategy. He also took Twitter private, meaning he didn’t have to disclose company information to the public.
Any new CEO will take over Twitter’s set of challenges. The company faces a sluggish advertising business, which has been its main source of revenue, and an annual debt payment of about $1.5 billion from the sale to Mr. Musk. At an investor conference in March, he said Twitter’s ad revenue was down 50% and it was on the brink of bankruptcy within months of the acquisition.
Some of Twitter’s ad problems have been linked to a broader downturn caused by global economic uncertainty. But Mr. Musk also spooked advertisers after he bought Twitter because he put restrictions on what kind of posts were allowed on the social media service. Brands generally don’t want to advertise next to toxic content.
IPG, one of the world’s largest advertising firms, issued an advisory through its media agencies in the fall asking clients to temporarily halt spending on Twitter over concerns about moderation.
Last month, in an interview with bbcMr. Musk said, most of Twitter’s advertisers are back.
Under Ms. Yaccarino’s leadership, Twitter will gain an executive with deep ties to the advertising industry and extensive experience in the media space. Ms. Yaccarino, who has risen through her long career at NBCUniversal, has personal ties to most of the chief executives of the advertising holding company, which is a big Twitter backer.
Over the years, she rose to the top of the advertising world, leading a large team that brokered major marketing partnerships, helped develop NBCUniversal’s streaming options, critiqued outdated industry practices, and created more than $100 billion in advertising sales. She has been active in the network’s deals with major events such as the Super Bowl and the Olympics. She’s also a solid face in sparkly ad campaigns, like the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in the south of France.
The Twitter CEO’s talk comes at a delicate time for Ms. Yaccarino, who is scheduled to address NBCUniversal’s largest client next week in the lead-up to an annual pitch that lures advertisers.
Musk floated the idea of Twitter’s CEO last December after Musk came under criticism for some of his decisions at the company. He ran a Twitter poll at the time asking whether he should resign as head of the company. “I will abide by the results of the polls,” he wrote.
More than 17 million votes were cast in the poll, with about 58 percent of respondents saying they supported his resignation as chief executive. Speaking at a conference in Dubai in February, Mr. Musk said he aimed to name a new Twitter chief executive by the end of 2023.
Twitter staff were not informed of the new chief executive before Mr. Musk tweeted, according to two employees.
Mr Musk has also come under pressure from investors in his other companies, notably electric car maker Tesla, to step down day-to-day management of Twitter, which they see as a distraction. Shares of Tesla, little changed for much of the day, jumped after Mr. Musk’s tweet, rising about 2 percent in the final minutes of trading on Thursday.
Mr. Musk has previously relinquished some of his leadership responsibilities at other companies. At SpaceX, his private rocket maker, he has entrusted much of the company’s operations to President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. That has allowed Mr. Musk to focus on engineering and product decisions and move between his various companies.