Elon Musk has said he will find a new Twitter CEO after users voted for him to leave. But who would be, in their own words, “crazy enough to take the job”?
This is the question I asked in my talks last week. Based on my checks with people in the know, Musk doesn’t appear to have launched an official search yet. And given his tendency to lie and go back on his word, he may not be trying to find someone. To complicate matters, he said that even after finding the CEO, he would continue to lead “software and server teams.” It’s basically the whole business.
Whatever the case, I think Musk will eventually find a CEO, not only because he told his investors on Twitter that he would, but because it makes sense to him. Below are the names I’ve been offered as good candidates if Musk does indeed hand over the reins to Twitter. (I’m not including the obvious members of Musk’s transition team who helped him in the early days of the takeover, namely David Sacks, Jason Calacanis, and Sriram Krishnan, because from what I’ve read, they can’t accept the position if asked.)
Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta
Pros: This choice is perhaps the most obvious, especially if Musk does what he says and continues to lead development on Twitter after a new CEO is appointed. Sandberg has a reputation among advertisers, and Musk needs connections to change the Twitter business. And she became a free agent after leaving the Meta last year.
Cons: Musk is not a fan of Facebook and I don’t think they will get along well. Sandberg also seems happy to focus on her philanthropy and family life these days.
Emmet Shear, co-founder and CEO of Twitch
Pros: Emmet Shear wasn’t on my list of possible names before I started looking, but I’m getting used to the thought. As the co-founder and current head of Twitch, he successfully sold the social media company to the 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 has been a total mess lately.
Cons: He has never run a public company, and Musk plans to bring Twitter back to public markets in a few years. And Twitch has failed to expand beyond its core niche of live streaming gamers.
Vanessa Pappas, COO of TikTok
Pros: She has the experience Musk needs, first helping set up YouTube’s first creative program and most recently as Tik Tok’s COO. I also heard rumors that she plans to leave TikTok/ByteDance later this year.
Cons: If Musk is primarily looking for someone big advertisers know to run Twitter, she won’t be the first choice as she’s mainly focused on the product and creators.
Jim Lanzone, Yahoo CEO
Pros: Lanzone has a lot of experience in media and advertising, apart from his brief stint as CEO of Tinder. He currently runs Yahoo, but he might jump at the chance. He has connections in the advertising community, operational experience that Musk could use, and a constitution to handle Musk’s antics.
Cons: Not sure if he wants to work for Musk now and solve the puzzle that is Twitter.
Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram
Pros: In terms of pedigree and products, the Instagram co-founder and former CEO is by far the best bet. He’s been low key since quitting Instagram/Facebook in 2018 after running into Mark Zuckerberg, though he’s shown interest in the social media model of TikTok – guessing recommendations in a social graph feed, someone on Lex Friedman’s podcast last year. . This is exactly what Musk wants Twitter to focus on.
Cons: He once worked for a stubborn founder/CEO, made a lot of money, and probably doesn’t want to start over. He also doesn’t have the degree of influence in the advertising community that Musk is likely looking for.
Honorable Mentions come to mind: Adam Bain, Susan Wojcicki, Sarah Friar, Kayvon Bakepur, and Kevin Weil. Did I forget someone? Let me know…