New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino’s Noncompete Clause Constrains Her First Weeks on the Job (Report)

It’s unclear when the company’s new leader will be able to engage with the advertisers she was hired to lure back to the platform

Linda Yaccarino speaks at The Girls' Lounge dinner, giving visibility to women at Advertising Week 2016
Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino speaks at The Girls' Lounge dinner, giving visibility to women at Advertising Week 2016 (Getty)

Since she official took the Twitter CEO chair, Linda Yaccarino has reportedly been unable to work on one of her main goals – bringing major advertisers back to the social media platform.

Yaccarino, the former chair of global advertising at NBCUniversal, has been constrained since taking over June 5 by a noncompete clause that extended through her first few weeks at Twitter, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing a person close to her.

The clause’s expiration date is not clear, the Times reported, but it has already kept her from a June 16 Publicis Groupe conference in Paris, where the advertising powerhouse’s chairman interviewed Twitter owner Elon Musk and from the Cannes Lions advertising festival last week, a major event for the ad industry. Twitter also “significantly scaled back its spending and presence” at the Cannes Lion event compared with prior years, the report said.

Although unable to hobnob with the ad industry elite she was hired to woo, Yaccarino, 60, has spoken with some of the platform’s advertisers about the growth of negative content on the site, according to The Times. She’s also worked to repair the company’s relationship with Google, including paying its overdue bills for cloud computing services, which Musk had stopped covering.

And she’s met with regulators from the European Union over Twitter’s content moderation ahead of a new EU law called the Digital Services Act that will hold social media platforms responsible for moderating content and disinformation, which kicks in this summer.

Yaccarino has also gone face-to-face with Twitter’s investors, reportedly telling them she is planning to make commerce easier on the platform, including the creation of a digital wallet, The Financial Times reported.

The new CEO is also working on restoring employee morale after an incredibly difficult period since Musk took over in October, which resulted in about 80% of the staff departing. Yaccarino has held happy hours and ramped up internal communication, the reports said.

But her major goal must be to bring advertisers back.

After Musk decreased content moderation and allowed misinformation and toxic content to flourish, brands backed off for fear of damaging their reputation. Ad revenue plunged 89% since the takeover, and although some big brands have inched their way back to the platform, other high profile names continue to leave, including Ben & Jerry’s, which ended paid ads earlier this month “due to the proliferation of hate speech.”

At a June 12 meeting, Yaccarino said she and the advertising sales staff would have to engage in “hand-to-hand combat” to persuade advertisers to return, the Times reported, citing a recording of the meeting it obtained. “She did not mention her inability at the time to discuss ad deals with clients,” the report said.

Yaccarino has started to reveal her longer-term plans, which include working more directly with influencers, political figures, celebrities and news publishers in the hope that more bold-faced names will help boost advertising; the new payment capabilities, and more emphasis on video, the FT said.

She aims to launch full-screen, sound-on video ads that users would see as they scroll through Twitter’s new short-video feed, the report said. Full scale plans are expected to be aired on Twitter Spaces in the first week of August.

To accomplish these goals, Yaccarino also wants to raise headcount following the Musk purge. The FT said she negotiated with Musk about rebuilding the advertising, sales and partnership team as a requirement for her taking the job.

“The issue is content moderation. And it exists in two dimensions. For everybody else. And for Elon.” Lou Paskalis, advertising veteran and CEO of AJL Advisory told The FT. “The hope is Linda will create a buffer between what he does, and a brand-safe environment on Twitter.”

Yaccarino reportedly also employees she wants to engage more with the press. But a request for comment from TheWrap Thursday morning received the autoreply “poop” emoji that the company has used for months.