If there’s one thing that’s become abundantly clear over the past 12 months, it’s that Linda Yaccarino is definitely not the CEO of X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
From the moment that Yaccarino was appointed, after a famed career at NBCUniversal, questions were raised as to exactly how much sway she would have at the company, with owner Elon Musk using his newfound notoriety to make radical changes at the app, then bask in the media frenzy that each created. The tag ‘CEO in name only’ was quickly attached to Yaccarino’s post, but that term is also weighed with a level of sexism and bias, which belittles Yaccarino’s achievements.
Surely, given her reputation, Yaccarino is deserving of the opportunity to assert her authority without jumping to quick-fire judgments?
Unfortunately, at every turn, Yaccarino has lived up to this cruel label, with Musk clearly pulling all the strings, and doing whatever he likes with his new toy.
And worse than being a mere apologist for Musk’s worst instincts, Yaccarino has been an enabler, readjusting her own moral stances in order to better align with Musk’s every contradictory twist. There’s no justification for many of Musk’s abhorrent statements, but every time, Yaccarino has found one, along with a way to merge whatever Musk is saying into X’s unique approach and vision, which changes every week.
No resistance, even when Musk tells advertisers to ‘go f yourself’, even when Musk amplifies offensive, misinformed perspectives, even when he re-platforms harmful conspiracy theorists. To the contrary, Yaccarino is there with praise and support, clapping him on from the sidelines with all the enthusiasm of a dedicated soccer mom. To her, Elon can do no wrong, but as the CEO that’s simply not a workable position.
Yaccarino needs to take a stand. Her job, as she’s stated several times, is to get the company’s ad business back on track, but since she’s been in the role, the platform has continued to lose ad partners due to Musk’s random outbursts and decisions. Musk said that X’s ad revenue was down 50% year-over-year before he amplified an antisemitic trope, which then saw even more major brands pausing their campaigns. X is likely to bring in around $2b in ad revenue for the year, down from $4.4b in 2022, and Yaccarino’s task has continually been made more challenging by her erratic boss. But as the CEO, Yaccarino needs to push back, and as an industry veteran, with her own reputation on the line, Yaccarino also needs to make a more definitive stand against Musk’s whims.
But she’s clearly not going to do that. Yaccarino seems happy enough to continue posting pointless stats, which she appears to believe paint a rosy picture of her ongoing failures at X. If X is going to get its ad business back on track, it needs a CEO who’s going to appeal to brand leaders, and show them that their concerns are being heard, while also sharing real, verifiable insights that matter to them.
It needs a leader who’s going to call Musk out on his b.s., who’s able to negotiate with Elon on his various contradictions and hypocritical stances. It needs somebody who’s more than just a glorified spin doctor. Whether such a person actually exists is debatable, but Yaccarino clearly is not it.
Maybe, after a year in the role, Yaccarino will finally change tack and show her true leadership. But thus far, she’s done nothing to suggest, at least externally, that she’s anything more than Elon’s propaganda chief.
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