Linda Yaccarino on Wednesday waved off the suggestion that she is “CEO in name only” at Elon Musk’s X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
In a live interview at the Code Conference in California, CNBC’s Julia Boorstin told Yaccarino that some question her authority at X while Musk, the platform’s owner, continues to oversee its product team. Boorstin contrasted this with Meta, whose product team reports to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“There has been speculation that you are in more of a COO role or a placebo role as CEO in name only,” Boorstin said.
“Yeah, not nice,” replied Yaccarino, who’s now 100 days into the job.
“[Musk] runs product. He runs technology. He leads a team of exceptionally talented engineers, and who’s kidding who? I don’t care what the structure is at Meta, but who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side running product?”
The chief executive was also asked about Musk’s suggestion that the platform will start charging all X users a monthly fee, and whether she was involved in the proposal.
“Could you repeat?” Yaccarino replied, pausing at the question.
“He said that’s the plan. So did he consult you before he announced that?” Boorstin said.
“We talk about everything,” Yaccarino answered, without elaborating.
But this wouldn’t be the first time that Musk’s words have taken Yaccarino by surprise.
According to a story published Wednesday by The Financial Times, Musk jumped the gun in May when he publicly announced that X had hired a new female CEO, without providing a name.
Though Yaccarino and Musk had privately reached an agreement for her to take the role, she’d reportedly told him that she was waiting to inform her then-employer, NBCUniversal, of the move. His surprise announcement immediately led to speculation that Yaccarino had been named to the post.
In another moment of apparent divergence, Musk recently made headlines for threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League, despite Yaccarino and ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt both speaking positively of a meeting they’d had just days prior.
“ADL seems to be responsible for most of our revenue loss,” Musk said earlier this month, suggesting that the organization had scared off advertisers with claims that the platform hosts hateful content.
At Code, Yaccarino addressed the controversy, saying: “I wish that would be different. We’re looking into that.” She also said the company is making progress on fighting hate.
This comes after prominent Jewish leaders published an open letter saying X “represents one of the largest dangers to Jews in years.”
And earlier at the Code Conference, Yoel Roth — the former head of trust and safety at Twitter — argued that X isn’t doing enough to curb hate.
He also had a warning for the new CEO.
“Look at what your boss did to me,” said Roth, who went into hiding last year to avoid an internet mob after Musk baselessly accused him of supporting child sexualization. “I hope she is thinking about what those risks are and what she might face.”
Yaccarino insisted that things have changed since Roth was part of the platform.
“It’s a new day at X,” she said at Code. “I work at X. He worked at Twitter. X is a new company, building a foundation based on free expression and freedom of speech. Twitter at the time was operating on a different set of rules as set by himself, different philosophies and ideologies that were creeping down the road of censorship.”