Who could be the CEO of Twitter if Elon Musk resigns

Who could be the CEO of Twitter if Elon Musk resigns

The following is a free preview from last week Command Line, my new weekly newsletter on the tech industry insider conversation:

Elon Musk has said he will find a new CEO for Twitter after users I voted for him to go. But who, in his own wordsbe “dumb enough to take the job”?

It’s a question I’ve been raising in conversations for the past week. Based on my checks with people who would know, Musk doesn’t appear to be conducting a formal search yet. And given his propensity to lie go back on your word, you might not try to find someone. Matters are complicated when she says that even after finding a CEO, she will continue to run the “software and server teams.” That’s basically the entire company.

For what it’s worth, I think Musk will eventually find a CEO, not just because he told his Twitter investors he would, but because it’s the most rational thing for him to do. Below are the names that have been presented to me as good candidates should Musk hand over the reins of Twitter. (I’m not including the obvious members of Musk’s transition team who helped him in the early days of the acquisition, namely David Sacks, Jason Calacanis, and Sriram Krishnan. — since my reading is that they are not in a position to accept the job if requested).

Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta

Kristen Radtke / The Edge; fake images

Advantages: This pick is perhaps the most obvious choice, especially if Musk walks the talk and continues to lead engineering at Twitter after naming a new CEO. Sandberg has the advertiser rep and connections Musk needs to start fixing Twitter’s spiraling business. And he’s a free agent after leaving Meta last year.

Cons: Musk is not a fan of Facebook and I don’t think they get along. Sandberg also seems happy focusing on his philanthropy and family life these days.

Emmett Shear, Co-Founder and CEO of Twitch

TED2019: Bigger than us

Photo by Lawrence Sumulong/Getty Images

Advantages: While Shear wasn’t on my list of possible names until I started asking, I’m getting the idea. As the co-founder and current head of Twitch, he successfully sold a social media company to a tech giant and has the experience Musk needs for his plan to turn Twitter into a video platform for creators. Also, I’ve heard that the Twitch organization is in disarray lately.

Cons: He hasn’t run a public company, and Musk plans to bring Twitter back to the public markets in several years. And Twitch hasn’t been able to successfully expand outside of its main niche of live streams for gamers.

Vanessa Pappas, COO of TikTok

TikTok House Party at VidCon 2022

Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for TikTok

Advantages: She has the experience Musk needs, having first helped launch YouTube’s early creator program and most recently as TikTok’s COO. I’ve also heard rumors that she might be planning a TikTok/ByteDance exit sometime this year.

Scam: If Musk is primarily looking for someone the big advertisers know to lead Twitter, he wouldn’t be the best fit, as his focus has largely been on products and creators.

Jim Lanzone, CEO of Yahoo

MAKERS Conference 2022 - Day One

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for the MAKERS conference

Advantages: Lanzone’s background is more in media and advertising, aside from his brief stint as CEO of Tinder. He is now running Yahoo, but he can seize the right opportunity. He has the ad community connections and operations experience that Musk could use and the constitution to deal with Musk’s antics.

Scam: It’s unclear if he would want to work for Musk and take on the headache that is Twitter right now.

Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram

New York Times Deal Book 2019

Photo by Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

Advantages: In terms of pedigree and products, the Instagram co-founder and former CEO is definitely one of the best options. He’s been quiet since leaving Instagram/Facebook in 2018 after clashing with Mark Zuckerberg, though he showed interest in the TikTok model of social media, unraveling recommendations in someone’s social graph feed, on Lex Fridman’s podcast on last year. That’s exactly what Musk also wants Twitter to focus on.

Cons: You’ve already worked for a stubborn founder/CEO, made a lot of money, and probably don’t want to do it all again. He also doesn’t have the degree of influence with the ad community that Musk is probably looking for.

I got honorable mentions: Adam Bain, Susan Wojcicki, Sarah Friar, Kayvon Beykpour, and Kevin Weil. Am I missing someone else? Let me know…

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