X CEO Linda Yaccarino emphasized that she has “autonomy” from the platform’s owner Elon Musk and stressed the site has “de-amplified’ the “lawful but awful” posts that have scared off advertisers.
Yaccarino, the former NBCUniversal advertising chief who took over the company once known as Twitter in May, said during a wide-ranging interview Thursday that she and Musk have “very clear” roles at X – with the billionaire focused on “product design” and “new technology” while she handles “running the company, from partnerships to sales to legal to finance.”
“I have a great partner in Elon. It’s been eight incredibly supportive weeks,” Yaccarino told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
“Our roles are very clear and the way Elon and I talked about it before I started was that while our lanes are really clear and defined, we are brought together by the belief in what we’re trying to achieve.”
The dynamic between Musk and Yaccarino has been a subject of intense scrutiny since she inherited the difficult task of steering a massive overhaul that included an exodus of advertisers and a resulting loss of revenue since the mogul paid $44 billion for the social media site last year.
Yaccarino’s task as CEO grew more complicated after Musk surprised the public by ditching Twitter’s brand in favor of the “X” name.
Yaccarino said X has made significant strides in rebuilding its base of major advertisers, with Coca-Cola and Visa among the notable brands that have purportedly returned to the fold.
The X boss argued that the site is a “much healthier and safer platform than it was a year ago” and touted the company’s policy of “freedom of speech, not reach,” where content that’s considered “lawful but awful” gets “labeled” to protect brand safety for ad clients.
“You get de-amplified, which means it cannot be shared and it is certainly demonetized,” Yaccarino said. “So they are protected from the risk of being next to that content.”
Yaccarino said X is “close” to breaking even financially – a point previously made by Musk – and added that the company is hiring for new roles. At present, X has about 1,500 employees, or less than a quarter of its workforce before Musk bought Twitter and began mass layoffs last fall.
Some experts warned that Musk’s decision to nix Twitter’s iconic blue bird logo could further spook advertisers who were already wary of his light approach to content moderation. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives likened the name change to the “New Coke” marketing blunder of the 1980s.
But Yaccarino defended the change, stating that it was necessary to reflect plans to transform into a so-called “everything app” with an array of services beyond simple text-based posts.
“If you stay Twitter or you stay whatever your previous brand is, change tends to be only incremental and you get graded by a legacy report card. At X, we think about what’s possible, not the incremental change about what can’t be done.”
Yaccarino also addressed the potential cage match between Musk and his rival, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg, telling CNBC that “Elon is training” for a possible bout.
She described a cage match as a “great brand sponsorship opportunity” for X. Musk has said that the match will be live-streamed on X, though he may require surgery on his back before it can proceed.