May 11, 2023 - Economy

NBCU ad chief Linda Yaccarino in talks to lead Twitter

Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal's veteran advertising sales leader, is in talks to become Twitter's CEO, a source familiar with the conversations tells Axios.

Why it matters: Yaccarino is considered one of the most formidable advertising sales leaders in the industry, and she would bring a level of professionalism and experience to Twitter's ad sales efforts that the company has lost since Musk took ownership.

Be smart: Musk has long preferred to focus on product and technology over marketing and client services. But with advertisers fleeing Twitter, he needs someone who's willing to take that responsibility off his hands.

  • Earlier on Thursday, Musk said that he had already picked a new CEO and that "she" would be starting in roughly six weeks.

Details: Musk and Yaccarino have been in talks about a partnership for a few weeks, sources tell Axios.

  • Musk and Yaccarino both attended a conference in Napa hosted by ad giant WPP on Tuesday. They were on stage back-to-back, a source in attendance told Axios.
  • Last month, Musk appeared on stage for an interview with Yaccarino at a conference for mobile marketers in Miami.
  • Weeks later, NBCU and Twitter announced a renewed video partnership around the distribution of Olympics content.
  • The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the talks.
  • NBCU did not respond to a request to comment. An email to Twitter received an automated response.

The big picture: Yaccarino has been at NBCU in various advertising leadership roles for well over a decade, and she currently serves as Chairman of global advertising and partnerships.

  • She would be managing a much smaller advertising portfolio by moving over to Twitter, but she would be moving into a CEO role at a platform that she's long partnered with.

Bottom line: Musk doesn't like to spend his time wooing marketers and brands, but has been forced to do so in the past few months as Twitter's advertisers have been fleeing.

  • Hiring Yaccarino would relieve him of that duty and would put it in the hands of someone who is unquestionably capable.

What to watch: Yaccarino is expected to lead NBCU's annual upfront presentation to advertisers in New York City next Monday.

Go deeper