- X CEO Linda Yaccarino slammed questions on whether she’s running the company as “not nice.”
- Elon Musk has said he’s running the engineering side of the company.
- The X CEO took the stage shortly after an ex-Twitter staffer spoke on his negative experience at the company.
X CEO Linda Yaccarino slammed claims she’s watching Elon Musk run the social media company from the sidelines in an openly tense dialogue about working with the famously controlling billionaire.
Yaccarino fired back during an interview at Vox’s Code Conference Wednesday in response to a question from CNBC’s Julia Boorstin on whether she is a “CEO in name only.”
“I’m not sure what your definition of — or how you want to kind of wiggle me into an answer of: ‘Are you just a COO,'” Yaccarino said.
During the interview, Boorstin pointed to comments from Musk that he plans to run the engineering side of X — formerly known as Twitter— while Yaccarino focuses on the business and advertising side of the company.
“As a result of the fact that the product team does not report to you — the product team at Meta reports to Mark Zuckerberg — because the product team does not report to you 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,” Yaccarino said. “He runs technology. He leads a team of exceptionally talented engineers. I don’t care what the structure is at Meta, but who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side running product?” she added.
The audience chuckled at Yaccarino’s comments.
Musk has been known to be a difficult person to work with. After shadowing the Tesla CEO for over two years, Walter Isaacson said Musk can sometimes fly into “demon mode,” a state where he can be brutal and lack empathy. Tesla cofounder Martin Eberhard previously told Insider that Musk used to scream at him over press coverage on Tesla. And in a previous biography on Musk, The Wall Street Journal’s Tim Higgins said the billionaire had a reputation for exploding at top executives and employees on the assembly line at Tesla and had even rage-firing some.
Musk has previously denied accusations of rage-firing employees, calling them “false” on Twitter and saying he gave employees “clear and frank” feedback.
Yaccarino denied that she has ever seen Musk in a negative state and said he’s only ever been “supportive.”
Boorstin also questioned whether the X CEO had been privy to some of Musk’s decisions, including his recent comments that the company is debating charging all of its users a subscription fee.
“Do you think Elon brought me to the company to be the head of advertising — which I appreciate Kara’s comments that said I’m such a fantastic advertising executive — or do you think he brought me to run the company and to deliver to our users the best possible experience?” Yaccarino said, referencing Kara Swisher’s earlier interview at the event.
The X CEO, who was brought in to run the social media company in June, appeared on edge when she took the stage. Her interview came only a few hours after the Code Conference brought Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, on stage with Swisher. Roth, who left the company shortly after Musk took over, has spoken out in the past regarding content moderation on the site and has even said he was forced to flee his home earlier this year after Musk released the “Twitter Files.”
“I think many people in this room were not fully prepared for me to still come out on the stage, but here we are,” Yaccarino said, adding that Roth’s appearance at the event was “unexpected.”
“Yoel and I don’t know each other,” Yaccarino said. “He doesn’t know me. I don’t know him. 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 said by himself, different philosophies and ideologies that were creeping down the road of censorship. It’s a new day at X and I’ll leave it at that.”
Before joining X, Yaccarino served as chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal. Insider’s Kali Hays and Lara O’Reilly previously reported that Yaccarino has struggled to rally employees and step out of Musk’s shadow.