Who could be CEO of Twitter if Elon Musk resigns?

The following is a free preview from last week Command Line, my new weekly newsletter on tech industry insider chatter:

Elon Musk said he will find a new CEO for Twitter after users voted to leave. But who would enter? own wordsto be “stupid enough to take the job”?

That’s a question I’ve been asking in conversations over the past week. Based on my checks with people in the know, Musk isn’t officially looking yet. And considering the inclination lie he can go back on his word and try to find someone. Even after finding a CEO, he says he’ll manage the “software and server teams” to complicate matters. It’s basically the whole company.

I think Musk will eventually find a CEO, not only because he told Twitter investors, but because it’s the rational thing for him to do. Below are the names that strike me as good candidates to hand Musk the reins of Twitter. (I’m not including David Sacks, Jason Calacanis, and Sriram Krishnan, the outspoken members of Musk’s transition team who helped him in the early days of the takeover. — because what I’ve read is that they can’t take the job if they ask.)

Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta

Pros: This option is perhaps the most obvious, especially if Musk does what he says and continues to lead engineering at Twitter after appointing a new CEO. Sandberg has a rep with advertisers and connections that Musk needs to start repairing Twitter’s spiraling business. He is 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. Sandberg also seems happy to focus on philanthropy and family life these days.

Emmett Shear, co-founder and CEO of Twitch

TED2019: Bigger Than Us

Pros: Although Shear wasn’t on the list of possible names until I started asking around, I’m coming around to it. As the co-founder and current CEO of Twitch, he successfully sold the social media company to the tech giant and has the expertise Musk needs for his plan to make Twitter more of a video platform for creators. Plus, I hear that the Twitch organization is in shambles lately.

Cons: He has not led the public company, and Musk plans to take Twitter back to the public markets in a few years. And Twitch has not successfully expanded beyond its core niche of gamer live streams.

Vanessa Pappas, CEO of TikTok

TikTok House Party at VidCon 2022

Pros: He has the experience Musk needs, having first helped get YouTube’s first creator program off the ground and later became TikTok’s COO. I’ve also heard whispers that he plans to quit TikTok/ByteDance this year.

John: If Musk is looking for someone who he knows will lead Twitter, mostly big advertisers, he won’t be a top choice because his focus has been on product and creators.

Jim Lanzone, CEO of Yahoo

2022 MAKERS Conference - Day One

Pros: Lanzo’s background is mostly in media and advertising, aside from a brief stint as Tinder’s CEO. He now leads Yahoo, but may jump for the right opportunity. He has connections to the ad community and operational experience that Musk can draw on, and the constitution to deal with Musk’s antics.

John: It’s unclear if he wants to work for Musk and deal with the headache that is Twitter right now.

Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram

2019 New York Times Dealbook

Pros: In terms of generation and product chops, the Instagram co-founder and former CEO is definitely the best choice. He’s been quiet since leaving Instagram/Facebook in 2018 after clashing with Mark Zuckerberg, though he expressed interest in the TikTok model of social media — extracting in-feed recommendations from someone’s social timeline — on Lex Friedman’s podcast last year. That’s what Musk wants Twitter to focus on, too.

Cons: He’s already worked for a like-minded founder/CEO, made a lot of money, and probably doesn’t want to do it all over again. Also, Musk probably doesn’t have the clout with the advertising community he’s looking for.

Honorable mentions to me: Adam Bain, Susan Wojcicki, Sarah Friar, Kayvon Baker, and Kevin Weil. Do I miss someone else? Let me know…

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