Linda Yaccarino on Wednesday rejected claims that she was “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 are questioning her authority at X while Musk, the platform’s owner, continues to oversee the product team. Boorstin compared this to Meta, whose product team reports to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“There has been speculation that you have more of a COO role or a placebo CEO role, in name only,” Boorstin said.
“Yeah, not nice,” replied Yaccarino, who has now been on the job for 100 days.
“[Musk] executes product. He leads the 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 doesn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side and running the product?”
The executive was also asked about Musk’s suggestion that the platform charge all X users a monthly fee and whether she was involved in the proposal.
“Could you repeat that?” Yaccarino answered, pausing at the question.
“He said that was the plan. “So did he consult you before he announced this?” said Boorstin.
“We talk about everything,” Yaccarino replied, without elaborating.
But it wouldn’t be the first time Musk’s words surprised Yaccarino.
Although Yaccarino and Musk had privately agreed that she would take the role, she reportedly told him that she was waiting to inform her then-employer NBCUniversal of the move. His surprise announcement immediately sparked speculation that Yaccarino had been nominated for the post.
In another moment of apparent dissent, Musk recently made headlines for threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League, even though Yaccarino and ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt both spoke positively about a meeting they held just days earlier.
“ADL appears to be responsible for the majority of our revenue loss,” Musk said said earlier this month, suggest that the organization had scared off advertisers by claiming that the platform hosted hateful content.
At Code, Yaccarino addressed the controversy, saying, “I wish this was different. We’re looking into it.” She also said the company was making progress in combating hate.
This comes after prominent Jewish leaders published an open letter “X represents one of the greatest threats to Jews in years.”
And earlier at the Code conference, Yoel Roth – the former head of trust and security at Twitter – said argued that X is not 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 the sexualization of children. “I hope she thinks about what those risks are and what she might face.”
Yaccarino insisted that things have changed since Roth joined 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 freedom of speech and expression. Back then, Twitter operated according to different rules that it had set itself, according to different philosophies and ideologies that crept in along the way of censorship.”