Elon Musk says 'I've hired a new CEO' for Twitter

 Elon Musk said Thursday he has found a new CEO for Twitter, or X Corp. as it’s now called — and it’s a woman. He did not name her but said she will be starting in about six weeks.

Musk, who bought Twitter last fall and has been running it since has long insisted he is not the company’s permanent CEO. The Tesla billionaire said in a tweet Thursday that his role will transition to being Twitter’s executive chairman and chief technology officer.

In mid-November, just a few weeks after buying the social media platform for $44 billion, he told a Delaware court that he does not want to be the CEO of any company.

While testifying, Musk said, “I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time.”

More than a month later, he tweeted in December: “I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job.” The pledge came after millions of Twitter users asked him to step down in a Twitter poll the billionaire himself created and promised to abide by.

In February, he told a conference he anticipated finding a CEO for San Francisco-based Twitter “probably toward the end of this year.”

Analysts who follow Twitter’s business welcomed the news even without knowing who the replacement will be. Twitter’s advertising business has taken a hit under Musk’s mercurial rule, though the billionaire told BBC last month that the company is now “roughly” breaking even.

Elon Musk says he's hired a new Twitter CEO
Elon Musk said Thursday he has found a new CEO for Twitter, or X Corp. as it’s now called — and it's a woman. He did not name her but said she will be starting in about six weeks. In February, he told a conference he anticipated finding a CEO for San Francisco-based Twitter “probably toward the end of this year.” (May 11)
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“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.”

Shares of Tesla 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.

Last November, he was questioned in court about how he splits his time between Tesla and his other companies, including SpaceX and Twitter. Musk had to testify in the trial in Delaware’s Court of Chancery over a shareholder’s challenge to his potentially $55 billion compensation plan as CEO of the electric car company.

Musk said he never intended to be CEO of Tesla, and that he didn’t want to be chief executive of any other companies either, preferring to see himself as an engineer. Musk also said at the time that he expected an organizational restructuring of Twitter to be completed in the next week or so. It’s been nearly six months since he said that.

Musk’s tenure at Twitter’s helm has been chaotic, and he’s made various promises and proclamations he’s backtracked or never followed up on. He began his first day firing the company’s top executives, followed by roughly 80% of its staff. He’s upended the platform’s verification system and has scaled back content moderation and safeguards against the spread of misinformation.

Bantering with Twitter followers late last year, Musk expressed pessimism about the prospects for a new CEO, saying that person “must like pain a lot” to run a company that “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy.”

“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted at the time.

Twitter employees think they may know who Elon Musk has picked to replace himself as CEO of the social media company. Media industry insiders have other ideas. 

Musk made a surprise announcement on Thursday that he'd selected a new CEO to take over the role from him.

Chatter from the media industry points to Linda Yaccarino, head of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal. Yaccarino has told friends in the past that she wanted to be CEO of Twitter, one person familiar with the situation said.

Yaccarino has been supportive of Musk in recent months, when the tech billionaire has been slashing jobs at Twitter, and making enemies in and around the Twittersphere. She recently interviewed Musk on stage at an industry event, proclaiming her support for "freedom of speech" in a tweet sharing their conversation. She said at an Ad Age conference last fall that Musk needs to be given time to turn the company around. 

"Linda and I are currently rehearsing for Monday's NBCU Upfront," an NBCU spokesperson wrote in an email to Insider on Thursday. The Upfronts are a major annual ad industry event. The Wall Street Journal reported that Yaccarino is in talks to be Twitter CEO. 

Yaccarino is experienced at selling video advertising online. That's a potential area of expansion for Twitter under Musk's ownership. Tucker Carlson said recently he would be taking his TV show to Twitter.

When Insider checked in with sources at Twitter, conversations focused on Ella Irwin, according to three people familiar with the company. These people asked not to be identified discussing sensitive topics. 

Irwin is currently leading Twitter's trust and safety efforts. She replaced Yoel Roth in the role late last year after Roth seemed to have a falling out with Musk regarding Twitter's efforts around platform health. 

"Everyone thinks it's going to be her," one employee said. Twitter has not made any official announcement to staff about the incoming CEO. All they have is Musk's tweet, which said his selection is a woman and that she will start in six weeks.

Musk and other representatives of Twitter did not respond to an email seeking comment. Irwin did not respond to an email seeking comment. 

One person familiar with the company said the delay in the new CEO's start date could be related to Irwin currently living in Seattle and moving to San Francisco, where Twitter is headquartered. Musk has implemented an in-office work culture at Twitter HQ, where he has spent most of his weeks since taking over the company at the end of October.

Irwin has been on Twitter for less than a year. Since her promotion after Musk's takeover, she has developed a good relationship with Musk, the people familiar with the company said. She is one of the few executives to have so far survived his radical reorganization.

Earlier speculation as to who may replace Musk as CEO revolved around Steve Davis. While he's currently CEO of Musk's Boring Company, Davis was seen taking on a leadership role within Twitter, even sleeping at HQ with his newborn child. 

Irwin's experience and qualifications to become CEO, if she does end up getting the job, are already being called into question by some current and former employees. Although she has had stints at Google and Amazon, focused on trust and safety in ads and marketplace risk management, respectively, one former employee called her "wildly unqualified." Another person familiar with the company noted she has little experience running large teams, much less an entire company. Twitter's headcount is now down to around 1,000 people.

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