X CEO Linda Yaccarino was met with laughter and raised hands when she asked attendees, “Who wouldn’t want to see Elon Musk sitting by their side?” at the Code Conference on Wednesday.
“There may be a few show of hands to get the cute chuckles, but I would say the percentages in this room are about 99%,” she maintained in her continued defense of the contentious tech mogul.
Yaccarino went to bat for Musk a second time earlier in her conference appearance by addressing Yoel Roth’s surprise appearance just an hour prior. The former head of Twitter’s trust and safety department was interviewed by Kara Swisher on the same stage, and in jest, Roth said, “I think Twitter comms are really terrified that I’m here to trash the company right before their CEO gets on stage. I promise I’m not.”
But Roth did have a message for Yaccarino, warning against Musk: “You should be worried. I wish I had been more worried.”
“How do you make people start tweeting again?” continued Roth. “I’ll give you a hint. Make it safe.”
When Yaccarino took the Code Conference stage shortly after Roth’s appearance, the recently minted X CEO was more than “happy to respond.”
“He doesn’t know me, I don’t know him,” Yaccarino said, quipping: “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,” she explained.
“It’s a new day at X. And I’ll leave it at that,” Yaccarino added — but she did not truly drop the subject. The X CEO said later in the interview that “the company that was described about an hour ago no longer exists.”
“You don’t look back and compare yourself to a legacy company that doesn’t exist anymore,” she told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin.
Swisher later took to X to defend herself against criticism that she “sandbagged” Yaccarino by bringing Roth to the stage, saying “Good lord, is making CEOs all comfy my job? It is not.”
“Their choice [was] they wanted the last word, I guess,” Swisher wrote. “I also sent a text to her and everyone involved early this morning. No one was sandbagged. Yoel was asked a week ago. Do you think I prepped a detailed interview in an hour?”
“We’re journalists FFS,” Swisher said.
Earlier on Wednesday, The Information reported that X had fired four team members who were specially tracking election disinformation from an office in Dublin, Ireland. Last week X executives told the team that their work, based out of Europe, “wasn’t necessary” for the company anymore. Interestingly, the Financial Times quoted Yaccarino on Wednesday, saying that the social media platform was expanding its safety and election teams globally.
Musk tapped former NBCUniversal sales executive Yaccarino to be CEO of X earlier this year. While Musk remains in control of the company, Yaccarino has said that she has maintained autonomy in her role at the social media platform.