In the tech spotlight: Who is Linda Yaccarino, Twitter’s new CEO?

Ailla Dela Cruz, Lorenz Pasion

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In the tech spotlight: Who is Linda Yaccarino, Twitter’s new CEO?

Photo from Linda Yaccarino's Twitter/@lindayacc

Linda Yaccarino is set to take over the business operations of Twitter. Here's what users might expect from the new CEO.

MANILA, Philippines – On Friday, May 12, Elon Musk revealed the fourth person to become chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter following his unnamed announcement that he has found the person to take the job.

It can be remembered that he said last December 2022 that he will resign as soon as he finds someone who is “foolish enough to take the job.” That person turned out to be Linda Yaccarino, a former global advertising chief at NBCUniversal.

Yaccarino is set to take over business operations while Musk focuses on product design and new technology.

Who is Yaccarino and what can be expected from her?


Considered as “probably the best known salesperson” in Madison Avenue, Yaccarino has proven her expertise in the advertising industry with more than a decade of experience in being an advertising executive for NBCUniversal, and with almost two decades as the head for advertising sales in Turner, too. 

During the course of her leadership in NBCUniversal, her LinkedIn profile stated her 2,000-member global team “generated more than $100 billion in ad sales” among all her other achievements.

“She was responsible for stewarding and monetizing the company’s industry-leading portfolio of linear networks, digital and streaming platforms, distribution and commerce partnerships, and client relationships,” it went on to say. 

During her leadership in the advertisement sales of NBCUniversal, she was able to forge partnerships with Apple News, BuzzFeed, Snapchat and Twitter, among others.

Ad sales expertise

This Italian-American ad sales expert is known for creating a unified advertising sales system, and for advocating for the improvement of audience measurement. 

In 2015, she remarked that audience measurement in media was in “an absolute acute crisis” during an interview, as she explained the unmeasured NBCUniversal’s viewership that resulted in a loss of ad sales. 

Not satisfied with using an external audience measuring company, NBCUniversal released their own metric tool in 2018 called CFlight. They take pride in it as the “industry’s first cross-platform, unified advertising currency metric.”

Based on its website, it does the following: measures across all screens, implements a uniform, impressions-based metric, counts digital impressions viewed to completion only, provides co-viewing on over-the-top measurement-enabled platforms, and creates consistent post-campaign reporting – all considered essentials in the ad sales industry.

The launch of this tool came three years after Yaccarino expressed her dismay in third-party audience measurement, citing concerns on the following: no out-of-home measurement, inadequate sample size, lengthy turnaround time for basic ratings, and no reliable cross-platform measurement tools variable. 

Four years after launching their first-party metric tool, Yaccarino led the launch of platforms that aim to produce targeted ads for consumers, whose results will then be measured across both linear television and digital platforms. 

She led the development of the company’s enterprise data and identity platform, called NBCUnified in November 2022. Through this platform, advertisers would be able to “reach and better understand” their audiences by providing them access to their first-party data, which can be used for more targeted and personalized campaigns.

Not soon enough, still under her leadership, they launched the NBCUniversal One Platform in February 2023.

Her profile says this is a “unified, tech-enabled trading system” for advertisers by offering them an “audience-first approach” through an automated and interoperable campaign process.

Take against digital media

Aside from her innovative ideas to boost ad sales, Yaccarino is also known for her fight with social media companies to win over advertisers. Wired reported that she “spent her years fighting social media companies for the billions of dollars that advertisers divide up every year between old and new media.”

They also wrote that Yaccarino once pointed out the following to prove advertisers must choose broadcasting companies, like NBCUniversal, over social media: families don’t gather around newsfeeds compared to when they watch the television, social media “grade their own homework” for not using independent auditors, and TV networks have always produced high-quality content, which internet companies have been struggling with. 

Ironically enough, Yaccarino herself went against her own views as she is set to lead Twitter, a widely-used social media platform.

Bringing back advertisers

Yaccarino is expected to bring her extensive experience in the ads industry to Twitter in order to re-establish relationships with advertisers.

Twitter is suffering from a plunge in advertising revenue since Musk took over the social media platform. 

According to a report from The Infromation, over 500 of Twitter’s top advertisers have paused spending on Twitter, causing the company’s daily revenue to drop “40% lower than the same day a year ago,” with the company even starting to offer free ads in an attempt to bring back advertisers.

The Wall Street Journal reported the newly appointed Twitter boss will handle the business side of the platform, while Musk said in a tweet that he will transition to being the company’s executive chairman and chief technology officer (CTO).

Just two days after Musk announced that Yaccarino will take the helm of Twitter, top ad agency GroupM said it no longer considers Twitter “high risk,” the Financial Times said in a report. GroupM designated the social media platform as “high risk” last November following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, warning its clients against buying ads on the platform.

Pushback from Musk’s fans

Not everyone is happy with Yaccarino leading Twitter, however.

Despite Musk saying the newly picked Twitter CEO will focus on the business side of the platform, a Forbes report said Musk’s right-leaning supporters are cautious with what the new Twitter CEO is planning for the company in terms of censorship policies.

The Washington Post said in an article Musk’s fans think that Yaccarino’s past occupation holds signs that she will “tamp down on Musk’s free-speech initiatives.”

According to Reuters’ profile of Yaccarino, she is also the chairperson of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Taskforce on Future of Work and is a member of WEF’s Media, Entertainment and Culture Industry Governors Steering Committee. 

Yaccarino’s connection with WEF, appears to “irk Musk’s right-leaning or anarchist base,” a Forbes report said. The report also said that Musk’s supporters suggest that her background “undermines the platform’s commitment to free speech.”

A Daily Mail report also said Yaccarino has “collaborated with the Biden administration to promote the COVID vaccine rollout as chair of the Ad Council.” The report said her “pro-mask” and “pro-vaxx” stance have led Twitter users to accuse Musk for “selling out” on his promise of free speech on the platform. 

To quell his supporters’ worries of Yaccarino bringing back stricter policies against mis- and disinformation, Musk said in a tweet he was “adamant about defending free speech.”

Questioning Musk head-on

During an on-stage interview at NBCUniversal’s MMA’s POSSIBLE Miami Event, Yaccarino showed she can also be tough on Musk who, at the time of the event, had yet to announce her as Twitter’s new CEO. 

During the event, Yaccarino pressed Musk on some issues such as free speech on Twitter, Musk’s controversial tweets, and the future of marketing on the social media platform.

The then soon-to-be Twitter CEO asked Musk to explain his new content moderation policies, saying that he’ll implement free speech and allow users to “post hateful content” in the platform but will reduce its reach and “put a warning label” on these kinds of content.

The Wall Street Journal reported that throughout the interview, the two “both shared the kind of vision of what Twitter is going to be.”

“If freedom of speech, as he says, is the bedrock of this country, I’m not sure that anyone in this room who could disagree with that,” Yaccarino said during the interview.

The two also gave priority to user and stakeholder feedback during the interview, which Yaccarino also emphasized in a tweet she made in reply to Musk’s announcement of her new position.

“Your feedback is VITAL to that future. I’m here for all of it. Let’s keep the conversation going and build Twitter 2.0 together!” Yaccarino said. –

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Lorenz Pasion

Lorenz Pasion is a researcher at Rappler and a member of its fact-check team that debunks false claims that spread on social media.