It’s official: Twitter has a new CEO.
On Friday, Elon Musk confirmed he’ll be stepping down as CEO of the platform, handing over the role to Linda Yaccarino.
Yaccarino boasts an extensive career in the media and advertising industry. Her resignation from her role as chairman of global advertising and partnerships of NBC Universal’s was also confirmed Friday.
Musk said Yaccarino will start in late June, focusing “primarily on business operations,” while he himself will “focus on product design and new technology.”
Last month, Yaccarino and Musk sat down together for a live conversation at Possible Miami, a marketing conference. The conversation, in which Yaccarino interviewed Musk, looks more like a job interview now that Yaccarino is taking over the Twitter C-suite.
While still officially with NBU Universal, Yaccarino’s comments on Musk and Twitter were already very positive, praising both Musk and the platform on various occasions.
“If this is a marketing conference, for marketing executives that influence culture in this country, it is the responsibility of everybody in this room to offer a helping hand, and to say ‘how can we help? How can we make [Twitter] better?” said Yaccarino in her opening words.
Twitter user @chancery_daily interpreted the conversation as an effort from Yaccarino to “rehabilitate Musk’s reputation in real time.”
Why Did Musk Take Over Twitter? Yaccarino asked how the Tesla Inc TSLA CEO dealt with Twitter’s rebranding efforts.
“I’m trying to make Twitter fun, interesting and informative. The optimization for Twitter is [to] maximize the unregretted user time,” said Musk.
Musk continued to say that “in order for civilization to advance, we’ve got to have freedom of speech,” as an explanation of how taking over Twitter fits his agenda among projects like SpaceX and Tesla.
“It’s a bigger deal than you’d think,” he said.
Musk defined free speech as the “bedrock of democracy” and used a rhetorical question to define it: “are people you don’t like allowed to say things that you don’t like? Otherwise it’s not free.”
Freedom of speech, not freedom of reach: Musk said a new policy, announced last month, allows for most content to be posted, but makes a case to avoid amplifying posts that can be offensive to large numbers of people.
As long as the content is legal, it will stay on the platform, he said but the criteria for which posts will get amplified and which won’t will depend on a list of banned words, as well as an algorithm, which Musk said will be made open source so that it can be analyzed by third parties.
Traditional media is a competitor to Twitter: Yaccarino said there are several news organizations that don’t like Musk’s “push for democratization” of the platform, which is touted as giving more voice to regular people and “citizen journalists” as opposed to professional journalists and media outlets.
Musk labeled traditional media outlets as companies that “compete against Twitter for your advertising dollars.”
He said that media outlets have an underlying motive for “diminish[ing] Twitter and [reducing] the probability of advertising dollars going to Twitter,” and for that reason, the public shouldn’t trust their opinions of Twitter.
“X, the everything app”: At the April conversation with Yaccarino, Musk returned to his vision of Twitter as a transition into what he calls “X, the everything app…a platform that is so useful that it is essential to conduct your life.”
This means adding payment options to the platform, improving its direct messaging system, offering voice and video calls and encrypted communications.
Purchases will also be able to be made directly in the app: “You will be able to buy things directly on Twitter. One click. Boom, done,” said Musk.
Photo: World Economic Forum on flickr and Shutterstock.