RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Elon Musk reportedly is negotiating with a top NBCUniversal to take over as CEO at Twitter. The CEO candidate is a woman, as Musk had declared Thursday without naming anyone.
Linda Yaccarino, chairman of global advertising and partnerships for NBCU, is “in talks” with Musk about the job, according to a report Friday morning in The Wall Street Journal.
“A new CEO is the only way forward for Twitter,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg. “The single biggest problem with Twitter’s ad business was Elon Musk. As he steps back, Twitter can begin to unravel Musk’s personal brand from the company’s corporate image and attempt to regain trust among advertisers. The success of those efforts will depend on who takes over, but it’s difficult to imagine that the new CEO could be more controversial or damaging to Twitter’s ad business than Musk has been.”
Meanwhile, shares of Tesla where Musk also is CEO, rose about 2% Thursday after Musk made the announcement. Shareholders of the electric car company have been concerned about how much of his attention is being spent on Twitter.
Months ago he promised to step back from the Twitter role.
The new CEO will assume the role at Twitter Inc., which recently changed its name to X Corp., in the coming weeks, Musk said. He did not provide a name.
“Excited to announce that I’ve a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!” Musk said in a tweet.
Musk, who has had a chaotic reign as “Chief Twit” since buying the company in October, said he will become Twitter’s executive chair and chief technology officer, overseeing product, software and system operations.
In December, Musk ran a poll on the platform asking users whether he should step back as Twitter’s CEO, which ended with the majority of users voting in the affirmative. Musk said he would abide by the results of the poll but later backtracked, saying he would hand over the role “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” In February, he reiterated that he planned to find a replacement by the end of the year.
Musk has faced criticism for a series of policy changes at Twitter, which often came without clear justification and raised concerns about the impact on Twitter’s users.
He has also been attempting to convince advertisers to rejoin the platform, after many fled over concerns about hateful conduct on the platform, Twitter’s mass layoffs or questions about the company’s future. At the same time, he has been trying to sell users on a new paid subscription platform that includes the ability to pay for a blue verification check mark, but appears to have limited traction so far.
Musk — who runs or is involved in numerous other companies, including Tesla — has also faced criticism from Tesla shareholders concerned that he is distracted by Twitter.
Musk recently said that Twitter is now “trending to breakeven,” after previously saying it was at risk of bankruptcy. Now, the company’s new CEO will be tasked with trying to help turn around the struggling company and help Musk recoup some of the $44 billion spent acquiring the platform.
Even as Musk prepares to step back from the CEO role, he will likely maintain significant control over the future direction of the company. After taking over the company in October, Musk cleared out the C-Suite, dissolved the board and became both the CEO and sole director of the platform.