Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of social media platform X, was the headline guest at Vox Media’s Code 2023 event earlier this week. CNBC’s Julia Boorstin interviewed Elon Musk’s handpicked CEO, who is tasked with bringing advertisers back to the platform formerly known as Twitter.
As you may have seen, thanks to all the social media chatter surrounding the event, the interview did not go well for Yaccarino.
In case you missed it, Mashable has broken down the most intriguing moments of Yaccarino’s disaster of an interview at the tech conference.
X has lost millions of daily active users
As Mashable previously reported, Linda Yaccarino provided new daily active user stats for X at the event. According to Yaccarino, X currently has 225 million daily active users. Following the conference, X revised this number and claimed that the daily active user count is actually 245 million.
Regardless of which number is accurate, it’s a drop in the platform’s daily active users.
It’s been more than 10 months since Musk shared X’s daily active user metrics in November 2022, the week before he acquired the company, when he said that Twitter had 254.5 million daily active users. By mid-November, Twitter had grown to 259.4 million users.
So, X has lost millions of daily active users and now has less than it did before Musk took over nearly one whole year ago.
Yoel Roth’s last-minute appearance
Much of the discussion around Yaccarino’s interview relates to her flustered handling of a last-minute addition to the event program.
Yoel Roth, the former head of Twitter Trust and Safety, was added to the Code 23 conference on the day of the event. Roth was in charge of the user safety and moderation-related issues that Musk has so frequently been criticized over. Notably, Roth fled his home last year after Musk publicly attacked him on the platform.
While Yaccarino was aware of Roth’s addition before he took to the stage, and he spoke around an hour before her interview started, Roth’s interview was one of the main things Yaccarino wanted to talk about.
Perhaps one of the more bizarre moments was when Yaccarino claimed that, after Musk targeted him, some of the hate Roth received was off of the Twitter platform. This completely ignores the fact that the bulk of it happened on the app and that any hate he received elsewhere was first stoked by its owner — Yaccarino’s boss, Elon Musk — and that happened on Twitter.
X CEO doesn’t have the X app on her home screen
Perhaps the most viral moment from Yaccarino’s interview wasn’t even regarding something she said.
At one point during Boorstin’s questioning, Yaccarino held up her mobile device and promoted X as the place where real-time conversation around events was going on. Her point was that X was the go-to platform, and thus the go-to mobile app, to have these important discussions about news and culture.
One problem. As many eagle-eyed viewers noticed, it appears that the X CEO doesn’t have the X app on her smartphone’s home screen. Yaccarinno presented the phone to the crowd and the X app was nowhere to be seen. Interestingly, apps for Facebook, Instagram, and Signal all made it on Yaccarino’s home screen.
Yaccarino says advertisers are back. Musk says otherwise.
Yaccarino claimed that X is just about to break even — and is looking to turn a profit early next year. She said that 90 percent of the top 100 advertisers had returned to the platform, including small businesses and brands like AT&T, Visa, and Nissan.
However, Yaccarino’s claims stand in stark contrast to what Musk said just earlier this month when he blamed the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for X’s U.S. advertising revenue declining by 60 percent.
Half of Twitter’s biggest advertisers ended their ad campaigns on the platform shortly after Musk acquired the company in October 2022. A report from the New York Times found that advertising was still down 59 percent year-over-year in the spring. Months later, Musk confirmed that the company was still experiencing “negative cash flow” as of July, due to a “heavy debt load” and a 50 percent drop in advertising revenue.
Defending Musk and her role at X
Easily the most contentious point in the interview was when Boorstin questioned Yaccarino on what exactly her role is at X. Musk handpicked Yaccarino to be the company’s CEO. However, Musk still leads departments in the company — like product, which is usually overseen by the company’s CEO.
X CEO Linda Yaccarino and CNBC’s Julia Boorstin
Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media
There have been plenty of moments where Yaccarino appeared blindsided by Musk. Like when he abruptly announced Twitter would now be called X. Nearly a day went by before Yaccarino, the company CEO, put out a statement.
And another perfect example of this happened in real time at Code 23.
When Boorstin asked Yaccarino about Musk’s apparent plan from earlier this month to institute a paywall for X, Yaccarino seemed unaware that Musk floated the idea of charging all of X’s users. When asked outright if she didn’t know about the plan, she refuted the suggestion, saying she and Musk talk about everything.
But, it seems pretty clear she was uninformed about the issue. Why? Because she also seemed unaware that Musk later claimed he never planned to actually move to an all-paid model and his words were misconstrued.
Still, it seems that Yaccarino is a fan of Musk regardless. She defended Musk’s feud with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). She even repeated his talking points about how the ADL has somehow strayed beyond its initial mission of focusing on anti-semitism when it partnered with groups like the NAACP and urged advertisers to pause their Twitter campaigns due to hate speech content moderation issues. According to the ADL, however, its mission has always included civil rights for Jewish people as well as other minority groups.
When asked about how much authority she actually has at the company, with Musk still heading the product department, she responded by asking, “Who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side running product?”
Members of the audience audibly laughed and some even raised their hands.