Home Featured Linda Yaccarino slams notion she’s Elon Musk’s puppet CEO at X

Linda Yaccarino slams notion she’s Elon Musk’s puppet CEO at X

Linda Yaccarino slams notion she’s Elon Musk’s puppet CEO at X


When it comes to running her company, it’s hard to shake the notion that X chief executive Linda Yaccarino is riding shotgun to Elon Musk. 

The demanding entrepreneur poached the ad sales expert from NBCUniversal to much fanfare in May. Yet Musk still hogs the limelight when it comes to all major policy decisions, including his controversial rebranding of Twitter.

This continued blurring of responsibilities has led to repeated speculation over how much longer she would last in the role, especially after her attempt to smooth over relations with the Anti-Defamation League was torpedoed by Musk’s threat to sue the Jewish non-profit for billions in damages.

Speaking on Wednesday at Code Conference, Yaccarino sought to portray their collaboration as a mutual division of labor—one handling the commercial side of the business and the other in charge of product. 

“Who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side?” she asked rhetorically, before a number of hands in the audience shot up and the room burst into laughter

Yaccarino stayed firm though, insisting she called the shots and wasn’t just a glorified chief revenue officer masquerading as CEO. 

“Do you think Elon brought me to the company to be the head of the advertising,” she said, “or do you think he brought me [on] to run the company to deliver to our users the best possible experience?”

Yet when asked whether Musk bothered to consult with her first before dropping the announcement “we’re moving to having a small monthly payment for use of the X system”, Yaccarino dodged an explicit yes or no answer that might risk contradicting him. 

“We talk about everything,” she said, leaving it at that. 

Did Musk set Yaccarino up to fail?

Musk’s turbulent tenure as CEO of Twitter, as it was still known at the time, often lent the impression he made policy up on the fly, such as the time he decided users pejoratively labeling people “cis” could result in suspension.

Shareholders in Tesla pushed hard for him to cede the reins to someone more suited to running a media company so he could focus on a litany of issues facing the company. These include the crucial launch of his highly-anticipated Cybertruck, which will miss his end-of-third-quarter target. 

Yaccarino’s hiring was supposed to relieve some of Musk’s intense workload. By consistently deferring to Musk, however, she nourishes the “glass cliff” narrative he set her up for failure

The Code Conference interview did not help dispel the speculation she was uncertain as to what she could say. 

“Code always has questions from the audience, but I’m told that shortly before her interview, Linda Yaccarino insisted that the audience microphones be taken away and there be no questions from the crowd,” reported Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Bergman. 

X did not respond to a request for comment.

Organizer refutes Yaccarino was ‘sandbagged’ at conference

Observers remarked the CEO furthermore seemed to bristle at the probing questions by CNBC journalist Julia Boorstin.

Further exacerbating the tension was the fact that she took to the stage right after the company’s record was criticized by Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth.

“It’s going to be hard to book a high-profile guest after that kind of blindside,” remarked Jason Calacanis, a Musk associate who once lobbied for Yaccarino’s job by asking the tycoon to “put me in the game, coach!”

Longtime organizer of the event and former host Kara Swisher refuted allegations she “sandbagged” the head of X, however, claiming Yaccarino elected to come on after Roth. 

“She is the CEO and should be able to perform under pressure regardless. She should have all the numbers and facts at her fingertips,” Swisher posted. “She should be able to articulate a vision easily. If she’s paid the big bucks, she needs to bring the big guns.” 


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