X Corp. CEO Linda Yaccarino told CNBC that she has “autonomy” under owner Elon Musk in an interview Thursday, adding that advertisers should be comfortable returning to the platform under her leadership.
Yaccarino pointed to the post on the platform previously known as X announcing her hiring, where Musk underscored his continued control over product and development. Yaccarino told CNBC’s Sara Eisen that her role was “everything else” involved in “running the company.”
Questions have swirled about Yaccarino’s autonomy under Musk, given his extensive control over the company and his other ventures, including Tesla and SpaceX.
Yaccarino, the former global advertising chief at CNBC parent company NBCUniversal, also emphasized Twitter’s effort to improve the advertiser experience, after brands fled from the platform following Musk’s acquisition.
Hate speech and potentially illegal content proliferated in the days and weeks after Musk took control of the platform, CNBC and NBC News have previously reported. Brands were unwilling to risk having their advertising appear next to that kind of content, leading to a mass exodus of advertiser dollars.
Yaccarino argued that X is “healthier” than it was when it was publicly traded. “You might not agree” with all posts, Yaccarino added.
Yaccarino faces an uphill battle in rebuilding advertiser trust. Musk has claimed that user engagement continually reaches fresh heights, but the company has yet to provide concrete data on that engagement. Coca-Cola, Visa, and other brands had returned to Twitter advertising under her leadership, Yaccarino said, as a result of her direct engagement with marketing and communications executives.
Brands are now “protected from the risk of being next to” potentially toxic content, Yaccarino said. She added that if content is “lawful but awful” it is difficult to remove the content from the platform, but that the company’s new content controls would tamp down on advertiser risk.
Yaccarino told Eisen that headcount had stabilized at 1,500 employees, down from 8,000 employees pre-acquisition. The layoffs, which occurred before her tenure, were a “very necessary cost discipline exercise,” she added.
Yaccarino on Meta’s Threads and a potential Musk v. Zuckerberg cage match
Yaccarino was relatively dismissive of the threat posed by Meta’s Threads, which has seen engagement fall off since a buzzy launch. But, she added, “you can never ever take your eye off any competition.” Meta already captures significant advertiser spending through Instagram and Facebook. Threads has yet to introduce advertising.
The CEO also demurred on a potential cage match between Musk and Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg. If it does happen, Yaccarino said, “Elon is training,” emphasizing that a potential cage match would be a “great brand sponsorship opportunity.”