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Business May 12, 2023

Elon Musk Hires New Twitter CEO, Steps Down in Six Weeks



Elon Musk Hires New Twitter CEO, Steps Down in Six Weeks

UPDATED – This story has been updated to include the confirmation of Yaccarino as new CEO.

Elon Musk has announced the appointment of NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino as new CEO of Twitter.

The billionaire entrepreneur said he is “excited” to announce the hiring of Yaccarino, who would focus “primarily on business operations” at the social media platform.

“[She] will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology,’ Musk wrote on Twitter on Friday.

“Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app.”


On Thursday, Musk revealed he had found someone to replace him at Twitter but he did not name the new executive. The market was awash with rumors it would be Yaccarino, as earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Also read: Google Makes its Text-to-Music AI Public

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO announced in a tweet that the new CEO will start in the role within the next six weeks.

Previously, he said his dog was the new CEO of the social media platform.

“Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in 6 weeks!” said Musk in a tweet on Thursday.

The big boss is expected to maintain a firm grip on Twitter, whether he names a new CEO or not.

He said he will become the firm’s executive chair and chief technology officer, overseeing product, software and system operations.

Is Linda the one “foolish enough” for the job?

In December, Musk ran a poll on Twitter asking users if he should step back from the role of CEO. The poll ended with the majority of users, 57%, voting in the affirmative.

Musk went on to say he would abide by the poll results but later backtracked, suggesting he’d hand over the role as soon as he found “someone foolish enough to take the job!

Later in February, he reiterated that he planned to find a replacement by year-end; is Yaccarino the one to replace him?

While he did not mention his successor, Yaccarino’s name has popped up repeatedly. Journalist and founder of media company Puck, Dylan Byers, has also confirmed it’s her in a tweet.

“Elon Musk plans to make NBCUniversal advertising chief LINDA YACARRINO the next CEO of Twitter, per two sources familiar…” he said, and also hinted she shared the same political views as Musk.

Recently, Yaccarino hosted and interviewed Musk at the “Possible” advertising conference, a popular marketing expo in Miami.

A report in Verge says the interview was “gushing” and Yaccarino has been tweeting about how excited she is that NBCU was partnering with Twitter for the next Olympics.

She also said she was a big backer of “freedom of speech” in a tweet sharing the chat.

Yaccarino has been with NBCUniversal for over a decade. As chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, she has strived to improve the effectiveness of advertising and played a key role in the launch of the organization’s ad-supported Peacock streaming service, per the WSJ.

Her LinkedIn profile, meanwhile, indicates she has a 2,000-member global team that connects emerging and established brands to hundreds of millions of views, driving impact across every sector.

Other names thrown in the ring

According to a report by Business Insider, speculation is also high that Ella Irwin is a favorite to take on the CEO post. She is Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety and reportedly a Musk loyalist.

Irwin replaced Yoel Roth in the role late last year, after Roth seemed to have a falling out with Musk over the company’s efforts around health.

Reports suggest Irwin has been crucial in bringing changes to the micro-blogging firm, like doing away with misinformation policies. She has earlier worked for Google and Amazon, where her focus was on trust and safety in ads and marketplace risk.

“Everyone thinks it is going to be her,” an employee told Business Insider.

According to the report, a person familiar with the company indicated the delay in the CEO’s start date could be related to Irwin currently living in Seattle and moving to San Francisco, where Twitter is based.

Inheriting a litany of challenges

The next CEO is expected to deal with a complex host of challenges at the social media platform which Musk bought for $44 billion last October. The billionaire brought sweeping changes to the company, and said he wanted to build Twitter beyond social media and into an “everything app,” including financial services.

Musk implemented thousands of job cuts, scaled back the company’s content moderation, and allowed accounts previously banned for breaking rules to return.

Among other issues, the new executive will have to deal with the fallout from ownership, including an advertiser exodus.

Despite a slight uptick in users since early 2022, Twitter’s revenue has fallen by 50% since October due to a “massive decline” in advertising, Musk revealed in March. Its Twitter Blue subscription service plan has also been failing drawing less than 1% of the user base.

With Yaccarino, Twitter will get an executive with deep ties to the advertising industry and extensive experience in the media sector, as well as personal relationships with most executives of advertising holding companies, a key constituency for Twitter.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.


Chinese City Pledges $1.42bn to Boost Metaverse Industry Growth



Chinese City Pledges $1.42bn to Boost Metaverse Industry Growth

Chinese city Zhengzhou has announced a plan to boost the metaverse industry by providing a significant 10 billion yuan ($1.42 billion) fund for local companies’ growth and development.

Although the People’s Bank of China banned digital assets in September 2021, the Asian power centre seems liberal towards the metaverse.

Under the new government’s draft, metaverse companies relocating their headquarters to Zhengzhou will have the opportunity to grab a start-up capital investment of up to 200 million yuan ($28.34 million).

In addition, the municipal government will provide a promising opportunity for companies operating in the metaverse sector within the city.

For each project that receives certification as viable by the government, companies will have the chance to secure a substantial grant of 5 million yuan ($710,000), regardless of their headquarters location.

Moreover, the government is offering other benefits such as rent subsidies for the metaverse company within Zhengzhou.

Open for public to review

The draft is now available on the municipal government’s website for feedback and review by the public.

“The public is now open to solicit opinions, and all sectors of society are welcome to put forward their opinions and suggestions,” reads the translation.

Hence, the purposed plan is only a draft to date, and the government has not mentioned the specific date of the fund allocation.

The metaverse-related sectors in Zhengzhou are expected to generate annual revenues exceeding 200 billion yuan ($28.34 billion) by the end of 2025, according to the municipal government.

Amid speculation about China lifting an absolute ban on crypto, the public is taking this draft as positive news for the industry.

“More positive news for crypto from China, that’s great,” wrote a Redditor in reaction to the news.

“One positive thing after the other,” another agreed, hopeful of China’s liberal step towards the crypto industry.

Will China overtake the West?

Western industry leaders like Meta wanted to be the leaders in the metaverse, but are now pivoting towards AI. Whereas China appears to be positioning itself as a potential metaverse hub.

As part of its commitment to spearheading China’s digital advancement, Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, has also launched the China Metaverse Technology and Application Innovation Platform.

“The Metaverse is a vague concept and every [company] is interpreting it in its own way. In China, it’s very much a government-led concept,” said Brady Wang, an associate director at tech market research firm Counterpoint.

The Chinese government is clearly keen on the technology.

“The key difference [in the metaverse] between China and the rest of the world is it’d be heavily regulated in a centralized manner,” said Zhengyuan Bo, a partner at China-focused research firm Plenum.

Bo emphasised that the monetization of digital assets within the metaverse is constrained due to limited space for growth.

“I think in a decade or two, China will play a bigger role in everything than the US,” speculated one Redditor.

“America hates China because China doesn’t do what America wants it to. They hate it because it exists. I’m happy China is dedollarizing,” another Redditor expressed.

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Microsoft Accuses CMA of Irrationally Blocking $68.7bn Activision Takeover



Microsoft Accuses CMA of Irrationally Blocking $68.7bn Activision Takeover

Microsoft has blamed Britain’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA) for “irrationally” blocking its $68.7 billion takeover of Call of Duty video game maker Activision.

The tech giant announced its plan to acquire Activision to “bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone, across every device,” back in January 2022. The proposed takeover aimed to bring Activision’s popular franchises, like Call of Duty, under Microsoft’s umbrella.

“Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion, inclusive of Activision Blizzard’s net cash,” stated the company.

Read Also: Google Opens Up Access to its Search Labs with Generative AI

However, its bid faced regulatory obstruction amid concerns over industry consolidation. The deal’s block provoked Microsoft to appeal, heightening anticipation for the outcome and its potential implications on the gaming landscape.

The regulatory body blocked Microsoft’s takeover of Activision in April, saying it would encourage market monopolies and stifle competition in the growing video game streaming market.

EU offers favorable conditions for businesses

The company has accused the regulator of making “fundamental errors” while blocking its deal.

Microsoft has claimed the CMA had not taken “proper account of three long-term commercial agreements which Microsoft had entered into with the other party” in the filing with the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

After the ruling, Microsoft president Brad Smith slated the regulator, suggesting the decision conveyed a “clear message” that the European Union (EU) offered more favorable conditions for starting a business in comparison to Britain.

Additionally, Activision, which is also the creator of the popular mobile game Candy Crush, accused the UK of having an unwelcoming business environment, stating that it was “closed for business.”

Hence, while the CMA has halted the acquisition, the EU has given the green light for the merger.

Need for broader understanding

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt expressed his belief that regulators should understand their “wider responsibilities for economic growth” following the blockage of the deal.

“I would not want to undermine that at all, but I do think it’s important all our regulators understand their wider responsibilities for economic growth” stated Hunt.

One of the reasons companies like Microsoft and Google are interested in investing in the UK is due to the presence of independent regulators that are not influenced by politicians, argued Hunt.

‘Takeover won’t be unfair’

The fact that the deal was blocked by the UK but welcomed by the EU has made headlines. Evidently in giving the green light, EU officials believe Activision’s takeover by Microsoft won’t be unfair.

In the meantime, it is still awaiting a confrontation with the US Federal Trade Commission which has filed a lawsuit to block the deal. The trial is scheduled to start in early August, with a decision expected by the end of the year.

“Where we diverged with the CMA was on remedies,” stated Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief.

She stated that a 10-year free license was granted to consumers, enabling them to stream all Activision games they hold licenses for via any cloud service.

“And why did we do this instead of blocking the merger?” she questioned.

“Well, to us, this solution fully addressed our concerns. And on top of that, it had significant pro-competitive effects.”

However, the Chief Executive of the CMA Sarah Cardell reiterated her support for the decision, emphasizing the regulator’s objective to establish favorable conditions for competition that would foster the growth of both large and small companies.

“I don’t find that we are operating sort of, broadly speaking, in a hostile environment,” stated Sarah.

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‘Google Manipulating Search to Favor Liberals and Influence Elections’



'Google Manipulating Search to Favor Liberals and Influence Elections'

Tech giant Google is allegedly manipulating search to favor liberals and tip elections, reports the New York Post. The company is using its virtual monopoly as a search engine to “elevate liberal views, stifle conservatives, and manipulate children,” according to a research report by Dr. Robert Epstein.

Epstein, who has spent the last decade monitoring Google’s manipulation of newsfeeds, search engine results, and YouTube suggestions, shared his latest report with the Post.

“Google has the power to change minds and move elections to suit its liberal corporate worldview,” according to the Post, citing the report.

Google shifted 6 million votes to Biden

Social media and the internet have become influential parts of political campaigning worldwide, as they are used to sway voter sentiments through various platforms.

However, the researcher claims that Google alone manipulated its search engine to shift 6 million votes to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election in the United States.

Read Also: Musk Will Leverage AI to Detect Manipulation of Public Opinion on Twitter

“Google secretly had in 2020, using biased algorithms which skewed search results towards positive links for Biden and negative links for Trump, as well as Get Out The Vote messaging on Google’s home page targeted primarily at Democrat voters,” stated the researcher Epstein.

Liberal bias is pervasive

The liberal bias is even more pervasive, as the primary outcome of Epstein’s report reflects monitoring how Google’s massive psy-op targets children through YouTube and other products.

YouTube’s ‘Up Next’ suggestions were biased towards liberal sources 76% of the time for adults. However, data from the past three months reveals that for children and teens, the percentage of suggested videos from liberal sources on YouTube is as high as 96%, according to the researcher.

“That’s how aggressive they are with our kids, because they think they’re gods. And no one has ever taken them to task, ever,” stated the researcher.

‘Google doing this since Obama took power’

Reacting to news regarding Google’s manipulation of search to favor liberals and swing votes, a Twitter user saw no surprise from the company.

“No surprise Google is behaving like media, which cherrypicks the information it reports.  Omitting inconvenient information,” reads her reaction.

In another scorching tweet, a user expressed frustration and claimed “election interference is allowed” and “ignored” as long as it benefits the Democrats.

“Try finding El Salvador economic reports for the last 20 years on Google. You can’t, but the World Bank reports prove decades of growth,” a user tweeted to reflect the search manipulation of Google.

Planning for live data in 2024 presidential election

The researcher has developed the same system as Nielsen for monitoring TV ratings to capture the ephemeral data by effectively “looking over the shoulders” of real users, whom he calls field agents.

Epstein has permission to record every Google interaction from 7,566 registered voters in 50 states. The researcher has even bigger plans, as he added 1,600 children aged 5–17 to expand his “field agents” pool to 25,000.

The best way to stop Google is by exposing what they do, he argues, and to this end he has built a public dashboard to go live in the 2024 presidential election.

The platform will feature live tracking of bias on Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Bing using real-time data from his chain of law firms across the United States.

However, Google CEO Sundar Pichai promised the Congress before the 2020 presidential election that “Google does not modify any products, including Search, to promote a particular political viewpoint… [We] will not do so for the upcoming 2020 presidential election.”

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