The following is a free preview from last week Command Line, my new weekly newsletter on the internal tech industry conversation:
This is a question I’ve been asking in conversations over the past week. Based on my checking with people in the know, Musk doesn’t seem to be doing any formal research yet. And given his propensity to
lying go back on his word, he might not try to find someone. The case is complicated by the fact that he says that, even after finding a CEO, he will still lead the “software and server teams”. It’s basically the whole business.
For what it’s worth, I think Musk will eventually find a CEO, not just because he told his investors on Twitter he would, but because it’s the rational thing for him to do. Below are the names I’ve been offered as good candidates should Musk really take over the reins of Twitter. (I’m not including the obvious members of Musk’s transition team who helped him early in the takeover, namely David Sacks, Jason Calacanis and Sriram Krishnan – since my reading is that they are unable to accept the position if asked.)
Sheryl Sandberg, former COO Meta
Advantages: This choice is perhaps the most obvious choice, especially if Musk does what he says and continues to lead engineering at Twitter after appointing a new CEO. Sandberg has the rep with advertisers and connections that Musk needs to begin fixing Twitter’s spiraling activity. And she’s a free agent after leaving Meta last year.
The inconvenients: Musk is not a fan of Facebook, and I don’t think they would get along. Sandberg also seems happy to focus on her philanthropy and family life these days.
Emmett Shear, co-founder and CEO of Twitch
Advantages: While Shear wasn’t on my list of possible names until I started asking around, I turned to the idea. As 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 the creators. Also, I heard that the Twitch organization has been in total disarray lately.
The inconvenients: He hasn’t run a public company, and Musk plans to bring Twitter back to the public market in several years. And Twitch hasn’t been able to successfully expand outside of its core niche of gamer live streams.
Vanessa Pappas, COO of TikTok
Advantages: She has the experience Musk needs, having first helped set up YouTube’s early creators program and more recently as COO of TikTok. I’ve also heard rumors that she might be planning a TikTok/ByteDance release this year.
The inconvenients: If Musk is primarily looking for someone the big advertisers know to run Twitter, she wouldn’t be the first choice because she’s been primarily focused on products and creators.
Jim Lanzone, CEO of Yahoo
Advantages: Lanzone’s background is more in media and advertising, aside from his brief stint as CEO of Tinder. He now runs Yahoo but may jump at the right opportunity. He has the ties to the advertising community and the operations experience that Musk could use and the constitution to deal with Musk’s antics.
The inconvenients: It’s unclear if he would want to work for Musk and tackle the headache that is Twitter right now.
Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram
Advantages: In terms of pedigree and product chops, the co-founder and former CEO of Instagram is definitely a top pick. He’s been quiet since quitting Instagram/Facebook in 2018 after clashing with Mark Zuckerberg, though he’s shown interest in social media’s TikTok model – unraveling someone’s social graph feed recommendations a – on the Lex Fridman podcast last year. This is exactly what Musk wants Twitter to focus on as well.
The inconvenients: He once worked for a savvy founder/CEO, made a lot of money, and probably doesn’t want to do it all over again. Nor does it have the degree of influence with the advertising community that Musk is probably looking for.
Honorable mentions went to me: Adam Bain, Susan Wojcicki, Sarah Friar, Kayvon Beykpour and Kevin Weil. Am I missing someone else? Let me know…