Less than a month into her tenure, she cured Musk’s “advertising allergy.”

The newly appointed Twitter CEO Yaccarino, also known as the “Superwoman of Advertising,” is expected to clean up Musk’s “mess.”

Compiled by: Silicon Bunny

Key Takeaways

Yaccarino, the newly appointed CEO of Twitter, is known for her sales skills, which are reflected not only in her collaboration with advertising clients, but also in her relationship management with advertising agencies and brand partners to ensure the company’s advertising sales performance continues to grow. Her arrival brings a glimmer of hope to Twitter, whose advertising business has been in free fall.

Musk and Yaccarino have vastly different personal styles and work approaches. Yaccarino spends more freely on advertising, using large expenditures to maintain brand partnerships, but Musk takes a completely opposite view.

One of the major promises Musk made when taking over Twitter was that he would eliminate spam bots. However, some media outlets have pointed out that this has been a huge failure, with Musk having made no progress in combating spam bots.

Article Content

Last month, Elon Musk announced that Linda Yaccarino, the new boss, would join Twitter in the near future and start as Twitter CEO on June 5th. Musk said he plans to continue to stay at the company. The billionaire Twitter owner said last year that he would step down as CEO if he found “someone dumb enough to take the job,” but the new Yaccarino seems willing to take on these challenges without fear.

If the new Twitter duo were compared to a Hollywood movie, it would be like “Mad Men” meets “Mad Max.” As the global president of advertising and partnership relations, Yaccarino is responsible for more than $1 billion in revenue each year and manages the company’s industry-leading portfolio of linear networks, digital platforms, distribution partnerships, and customer relationships. Yaccarino is responsible for overseeing all global, national, and local advertising sales and partnership relations, advertising sales marketing, and strategic planning. Therefore, Yaccarino’s arrival is “highly anticipated.”

Former advertising executive Linda Yaccarino was known for her extravagant spending, hosting parties at luxury hotels and building a lifelong career in the advertising industry. Meanwhile, Musk, who has slept on factory floors for decades, has avoided advertising expenses in his business. How will these seemingly contradictory individuals work together? This has become a hot topic on Madison Avenue. This issue of “Silicon Valley Cover” focuses on the new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, as well as the current situation and multiple problems facing Twitter. Will this new CEO and Musk’s unique new combination be successful? The answer to this question will determine the future of one of the world’s most important social media companies.

01 “Wonder Woman” of the advertising industry

Since Musk took over the platform last year, the problems have become more serious. He laid off 75% of former employees, including the team responsible for tracking abusive behavior; changed the way the company verifies real accounts; and his personal tweets about conspiracy theories have sparked controversy, causing a large number of advertisers to leave, and users are also showing some skepticism.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, in the largest user group of Twitter in the United States, two-thirds of adults are resting, and one-quarter of them say they do not plan to use Twitter within a year, even Musk seems to be somewhat worried about these challenges. He once joked that only “stupid” people would want to be his CEO.

However, the industry is still optimistic about Yaccarino’s takeover. “She’s someone who really likes to be Wonder Woman,” marketing veteran Lou Blockingskalis said. He has known Ms. Yaccarino for more than 20 years and described her as fierce, shrewd, and ambitious. He said she would seize this opportunity, “intervene… and say, ‘I can solve this problem.’ She is the daughter of a police officer and grew up in an Italian-American family. She was promoted in some of America’s largest media companies, established a reputation as a high-heeled, tough executive, and helped lead entertainment giant NBCUniversal through the changes brought by technology giants.

Under Linda Yaccarino’s tenure, NBCUniversal has undergone a dynamic transformation that continues to this day. She became the first CEO in history to push the company’s assets as a single investment portfolio (One Portfolio) to the market (a strategy that is now widely used in the industry) and continued to leverage NBCUniversal’s leadership position to drive industry-wide change. In addition to repeatedly transforming the Upfront market (a sales model in the US advertising industry), she also led a significant amount of technology investment and established One Platform, a revolutionary all-audience model. Her efforts have earned her a reputation throughout the industry as a person who works hard to win customers and build businesses.

Overall, Yaccarino has excelled in advertising sales. She possesses deep advertising sales experience and extensive network relationships, which enables her to establish close partnerships with advertising clients. She is adept at exploring the commercial opportunities of the advertising market and providing customized advertising solutions for clients through innovative advertising sales strategies and solutions that meet the latest trends and priorities of the advertising industry and advertisers. Moreover, Yaccarino’s sales capabilities are not only reflected in her cooperation with advertising clients, but also in her relationship management with advertising agencies and brand partners to ensure the company’s advertising sales performance continues to grow.

Although the Twitter advertising team she took over was much smaller than her previous job. These employees experienced a dazzling seven months, including rounds of layoffs and client outflow, partly due to concerns about Musk’s takeover and the uncertainty it brought, his changes to content review, and his controversial tweets.

In April of this year, Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino were on stage when she was not yet hired as Twitter’s new CEO.

Image source: REBECCA BLACKWELL/Associated Press

“Anyone who takes this job is destined to fail—not against her,” industry insiders said. “The question is, is it more likely to be in her favor than other options. Yes, in fact, the likelihood is more favorable.” Friends and former colleagues said they hoped Ms. Yaccarino would use her background in the television industry to improve the platform’s advertising business and expand the use of video throughout the site. She said Mr. Musk sees Twitter as a starting point for “all applications” and a “great opportunity” for advertisers to provide messages, payments, and other features.

Brightline is a tech company specializing in streaming media advertising that works with NBCU. Its founder and CEO, Jacqueline Corbelli, has said, “She has the courage to take bold action.” “If Twitter gives her the space to do so, she will be able to integrate past successful experiences and combine them with what advertisers are looking for to regain trust in Twitter.”

02 Musk, Who Hates Ads

Since Musk took over Twitter in late October last year, many well-known advertisers have fled, and Yaccarino’s task is to regain their trust. Attracting them back is crucial for stabilizing the company, as most of its revenue comes from advertising.

Musk has always liked to find strong executives to be his right-hand man. At SpaceX, although Musk served as CEO, his deputy, Gwynne Shotwell, was responsible for daily operations, so that Musk could free up his hands to focus on his favorite work, such as the project of sending humans to Mars. Similarly, at Tesla, he has been struggling to find a lasting second-in-command to handle the work he doesn’t like, such as sales. He once tried to hire Sheryl Sandberg, the author of the bestseller “Lean In,” as Tesla’s CEO. At the time, Sandberg was Facebook’s vice president, but she declined.

Currently, Musk will spend his time building Twitter’s features and broader vision, while Yaccarino will focus on the company’s day-to-day operations. Her experience and contacts could make her a valuable partner for Musk. Musk has said he wants Twitter to reduce its dependence on ads but still needs to find a way to get brands to reinvest large sums of money.

However, Musk’s views on sales, especially on ads, have long been at odds with Yaccarino’s. Musk said at Tesla’s 2019 shareholder meeting, “I have a distaste for advertising because…there are too many deceptive tactics in it, they will have a bad product, and then put it in an attractive environment and use attractive people to entice you to buy it.”

Musk has always had a disdain for forced sales, preferring to let products circulate on their own. This philosophy can be traced back to his early days as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, when he ran a startup that is now known as PayPal and witnessed how word-of-mouth recommendations ignited interest in digital payment platforms. In 2003, he said at an event at Stanford University, “Product is really the key. Because if you’re trying to sell something to someone, you really have to love it yourself, otherwise you’re not going to recommend it, because you don’t want to be a liar.” He took a similar approach at Tesla, often placing engineering above sales, including a 2019 plan to close most of the electric car company’s physical stores and transition to an online sales-focused model.

In April, Elon Musk spoke at a Tesla event in Austin, Texas. Musk uses such events to promote Tesla rather than relying on advertising to sell cars.


It’s just one of the unorthodox efforts he has made over the past two decades to turn Tesla from an unremarkable startup into a profitable car company. Along the way, he needed every penny to keep the company afloat and often boasted about sleeping on the factory floor while dealing with various crises.

Through it all, the 51-year-old Musk hasn’t invested heavily in advertising, unlike his automotive industry competitors, preferring to attract attention through media coverage of Tesla’s impressive features, tweets, high-profile customer events, or other things, such as including a Roadster sports car in the cargo of a SpaceX rocket launch.

03 Different Consumer Views

However, one of the biggest challenges Yaccarino may face is Musk’s unpredictability and fickle personality, which has long disrupted his executives’ plans and made his company’s accomplishments pale in comparison. Many of the differences between Musk and Yaccarino can be attributed to style, approach, and the way they developed their careers. He comes from the world of startups, while she is a corporate executive.

When Musk isn’t launching rockets or making cars, he may be seen in the gossip columns with his latest high-profile girlfriend or attending Burning Man, as he has for years. Yaccarino, meanwhile, spends her downtime having Sunday Sauce dinners with her close Italian family, which includes two sisters, one of whom is her identical twin.

Twitter, under Musk’s leadership, has essentially had no public relations team during its early evolution. Tesla’s sales process has also been problematic under Musk. The company has swung between soft sales strategies, which aim to educate customers about the expensive new technology of electric cars, and crazy end-of-quarter promotions, which are designed to meet the company’s delivery targets and generate necessary revenue.

In these busy periods, Musk has stepped up to personally help with car deliveries or seek help from customers on Twitter in urgent situations. If the company’s fate isn’t enough to motivate employees, Musk has also threatened their jobs and has been known to angrily fire them on the spot if they don’t complete tasks, a move known as “rage firing.”

Several years ago, when sales of Tesla’s Model S sedan were sluggish, Musk’s team considered advertising on Facebook to boost sales but ultimately failed, in part because Musk dislikes ads and sought growth in other directions. Tesla’s team said the company relied on leasing deals, which helped boost deliveries and upgraded the car’s performance. At Tesla, executives long ago learned to prove to Musk the rationality of their expenses and decisions based on data.

For years, Musk has been unhappy with some of the typical practices used to motivate sales teams, according to people familiar with the matter. In 2016, for instance, his sales chief planned to reward the best-performing employees with a special weekend at a vacation resort, which Musk was extremely unhappy about and later called “a waste of money.” “I just gave an address at the company meeting and made it super clear that we need to cut costs or we will die,” Musk wrote in an email to his leaders, which was disclosed in a legal filing.

Given the many differences between Musk and Yaccarino, several insiders on Madison Avenue privately speculate how long the combination can last. However, both sides have shown signs of trying to adapt to each other.

Shortly after Yaccarino’s appointment as Twitter’s new CEO, Musk publicly expressed willingness to advertise for Tesla, even admitting that his position was strange as the leader of the world’s most valuable car manufacturer that doesn’t advertise, but also as the leader of a social media company that relies on advertising revenue. “It’s ironic,” he told Tesla investors last month, just days after Yaccarino’s appointment. “I think we should do some advertising. Everyone should.” And Musk changed his long-held view, adding, “So we will try to do some advertising and see how it goes.”

At NBCUniversal’s headquarters, Yaccarino has a special closet filled with gifts—from high-end candles to cashmere blankets—that she uses to follow up with advertisers after meetings or to commemorate special events in a client’s personal or professional life. Some of the cost of these gifts is said to be borne by her. In addition, she organizes an annual free trip to Southern California’s top Cal-a-Vie health spa for top female ad buyers and marketers.

While getting massages and facials, attendees have also heard from several NBCUniversal television stars, including Today show host Jenna Bush Hager and MSNBC morning anchor Mika Brzezinski, who offer advice on everything from wellness to business, according to several people who have attended the events.

At the all-inclusive resort, guests typically receive a swag bag in their rooms that includes Lululemon workout gear, among other goodies. One year they were invited to work out with Kardashian’s personal trainer, Gunnar Peterson. She has also hosted a “shoe bar” where invitees could customize their own exercise shoes.

Every fall, she co-sponsors The Female Quotient’s annual dinner with NBCUniversal Media, a popular event for more than 1,000 women in advertising during New York’s ad week. In 2021, with the pandemic preventing people from traveling to NBC’s broadcast of the Tokyo Olympics, she also helped organize a viewing party in Orlando, Florida for athletes’ families.

During this summer’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the biggest advertising event of the year, she threw a “Below Deck”-themed party on a 156-foot super yacht named Luisa to ensure NBC could outdo media companies, publishers and tech giants trying to woo brands along the French Riviera. The party was DJ’d by Boy George.

Twitter was also known for pulling out all the stops to attract advertisers before Musk took over the platform. At Cannes, for example, Twitter sent around 100 staffers and spent millions on eye-catching events, including the acquisition of a trendy beach club (temporarily renamed Twitter Beach) to host parties for advertisers. This year’s entertainment is said to include singer Tony Bennett, with support from Twitter’s activity partner, Spotify.

Twitter’s 2018 brunch event in Cannes. This year, Twitter has scaled back such events at the film festival since Musk took over.

04 Twitter’s predicament

Given what we know now, the environment that Yaccarino finds herself in is far from rosy.

To get Twitter back on track for growth before Musk’s arrival in 2023, Yaccarino will need to restore approximately $1.76 billion in ad spending, according to reports. Insider Intelligence estimates that Twitter’s share of global digital ad spending has never exceeded 1.2% since 2010, while Meta’s share is set to reach 20.1% by 2023.

Yaccarino’s first move as Twitter boss was to eliminate the platform’s debt to Google, according to reports. Under new CEO Linda Yaccarino, Twitter resumed paying its Google Cloud bill and worked to improve its relationship with the company.

Earlier this month, Twitter stopped paying its Google Cloud invoice as part of a significant cost-cutting exercise under Musk, according to reports. The company signed a multi-year agreement with Google in 2018 to host services, including combating spam, on its servers. Google reportedly struggled to communicate with Musk initially and tried to reach him through SBlockingceX staffers. Yaccarino, who was appointed CEO in early June, helped to restore the relationship and held talks with Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian. Yaccarino’s arrival has helped to ease Twitter’s fraught external relations.

As of now, many advertisers have cautiously optimistic views of Twitter under the leadership of Yaccarino. According to the Financial Times, GroupM, one of the world’s largest advertising companies, has removed Twitter from its “high-risk” category, which will encourage advertisers to reinvest.

However, in addition to advertising, Yaccarino will face a series of urgent issues: regulatory scrutiny of hate speech and privacy controls on Twitter, as well as ways to deal with lawsuits from suppliers and former employees over unpaid bills; not to mention user complaints and basic technical glitches. Of course, the biggest variable is Musk, who has said he plans to continue to participate in the site, overseeing its products and technology. Yaccarino needs to strike the best balance between Musk’s vision and unstable behavior and Twitter’s advertising business.

On the user side, Twitter’s activity has also started to decline significantly. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center a few weeks ago, since Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter at the end of last year, the most active users before the acquisition (the top 20% of users ranked by number of tweets) have shown a clear downward trend in posting volume in the months after the acquisition, and even the average number of tweets per month for these users has decreased by about 25%.

One wave has not yet settled and another has risen. On Tuesday, US time, it was reported that their account was attacked in violation of the platform’s spam policy – restricting their ability to follow accounts, like, or retweet tweets for three days. However, some affected users claim that they have done nothing wrong, and even users who have rarely tweeted recently have been restricted, causing confusion and anger among many Twitter users. One affected user wrote on Twitter: “I almost didn’t tweet this week.” She said she had never received such a violation in her 14 years on Twitter. As of Tuesday morning (US time), “spam” was one of the top five hottest topics on Twitter in the United States, with more than 45,000 tweets in total.

Foreign media have contacted Twitter for comment, but its email address for media requests now automatically responds with an emoji of feces, and Musk has not tweeted about the situation, which has also caused dissatisfaction among many media outlets.

According to the Wall Street Journal, one of the major promises Musk made when taking over Twitter was that he would eliminate spam bots. But so far, this has been a huge failure. The article explicitly points out that Musk has made no progress in cracking down on spam bots. The article cites the views of many experts and researchers, pointing out that various studies and reports suggest that the amount of spam on Twitter seems to have remained largely unchanged.

The article also noted that Musk’s Twitter Blue fake verification program (which Musk claimed was key to stopping spam bots) actually made things worse. The media commented, “Throughout the process, it was clear that Musk never even tried to understand how they worked and made decisions based almost entirely on his own views of how the platform worked, which was distorted to some extent.”

Meanwhile, the update speed of competitors is gradually accelerating. According to relevant news, Instagram, a photo social platform under Meta, plans to launch an APP benchmarking Twitter, and may be online soon… Many issues are waiting for Yaccarino to solve one by one.

Although the outside world expects that their cooperation may combine Musk’s technical vision and the new CEO’s business insights to promote the company’s development in different fields. However, this success also depends on their degree of cooperation, leadership and ability, and their accurate understanding of market and consumer demand.

In any case, such a combination may stimulate the company’s internal innovative thinking, bring new business opportunities, and win advantages in the fiercely competitive market. However, whether it is successful or not still needs time to verify and depends on the interaction of various factors.

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