Jury Still Out On Elon Musk’s Appointment Of Linda Yaccarino As New Twitter CEO

Giulia Sirignani
on May 18, 2023

When Tesla chief and SpaceX founder Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion USD last October and promptly fired the CEO, laid off half its staff and started tweeting up a tiny tempest, Musk’s name became as polarising as another famously noisy tweeter who once lived in a big white house.

So, what are we tech gazers supposed to make of Musk’s appointment of Linda Yaccarino who will take over as chief executive from the billionaire? Should we see it as an applause worthy move for a more gender diverse tech sector or shrug it off as merely freeing up Musk to do other things after his controversial 6-month tenure at the helm of the Social Media giant? 

“Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app,” Musk wrote on Twitter when naming his replacement. 

“I’m not as prolific as Elon Musk (yet), but I’m just as committed to the future of this platform.” Yaccarino responded via tweet adding, “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!”

With fewer than 10% of Fortune 500 tech companies headed by women, 60-year-old Linda Yaccarino, formerly NBCUniversal’s head of global advertising, will become that rare example of a woman at the top of a major tech firm. 

She has serious gender equity cred after a career pro-actively working towards diversity and women’s advancement. At NBCU, Yaccarino used advertising to advance equity and helped launch initiatives like BOLD — a program for employing veterans — and the #ShesMy campaign to uplift women and girls. She’s also the Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Taskforce on the Future of Work. 

Elon Musk
Elon Musk enters Twitter office holding a kitchen sink in a prank that back-fired.

But Dr Foula Kopanidis, Associate Professor at RMIT’s School of Economics, Finance and Marketing doubts Musk’s motivation is anything other than self-serving. 

“Musk’s motivations are transparent. It’s about him and his other pursuits and financial interests,” says Dr Kopanidis. 

“Addressing greater gender diversity requires that organisations do more to have representation of women in the workforce across leadership roles. Moving beyond tokenistic practices means addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through acknowledging implicit biases, barriers to entry, lack of recognition of contribution, addressing the gender pay gap and finding opportunities for retention and advancement,” she adds. 

Gender bias and inequality remain front and centre issues for Australian women. While they make up nearly half of the labour force, at 47.4 %, women hold only 14.6% of chair positions. Only 5% of CEOs of ASX 200 companies are women, merely 1 in 5 boards have gender balance and women founders got only 0.7% of start-up funding in 2022. 

Still, Dr Kopanidis is hopeful Twitter’s new Chief Executive, who takes over in 6 weeks, can be a force for positive change. 

“As one of the few women appointed as an executive to reach the top of a major technology company, Linda Yaccarino is in a favourable position to not only inspire and highlight impact in her role, but to prompt a conversation on the prevailing social attitudes, norms and negative stereotypes that often stifle and deter other women from pursuing and flourishing in their desired career paths” Dr Kopanidis says.  

For more on Linda Yaccarino, known as the ‘Velvet Hammer’, watch the interview below.


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