The following is a free preview from last week Command line, my new weekly newsletter about the tech industry’s internal conversation.
Elon Musk has announced that he will find a new CEO for Twitter after users voted him out. But who would, in his 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 doesn’t appear to be conducting an official search yet. And given his propensity
to lie go back on his word, maybe he won’t try to find anyone. Complicating matters is that he says even after finding a CEO, he’ll still be running the “software and servers teams.” It’s basically the whole company.
For what it’s worth, I think Musk will eventually find a CEO, not just because he told his Twitter investors he would, but because it’s the rational thing for him to do. Below are the names that have been presented to me as good candidates should Musk actually hand over the Twitter reins. (I’m not including the obvious members of Musk’s transition team who helped him in the early days of the administration, namely David Sachs, Jason Kalakanis, and Sriram Krishnan. — because what I’ve read is that they’re not in a position to take the job if asked.)
Sheryl Sandberg, former Meta COO
The sides. This choice is perhaps the most obvious one, especially if Musk does what he says and continues to lead engineering at Twitter after appointing a new CEO. Sandberg has the advertisers and connections Musk needs to begin overhauling Twitter’s spiraling business. And he’s a free agent after leaving the Meta last year.
Against. Musk is not a fan of Facebook and I don’t think they will get along. Sandberg also seems happy these days focusing on her philanthropy and family life.
Emmett Shear, co-founder and CEO of Twitch
The sides. Although Shire wasn’t on my short list of possible names until I started asking, I’m coming around to the idea. 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 more video for creators. Also, I’ve heard the Twitch org has been a mess lately.
Against. He hasn’t run a public company, and Musk plans to bring Twitter back to the public market in a few years. And Twitch hasn’t been able to successfully expand beyond its core niche of live gamer streams.
Vanessa Pappas, TikTok COO
The sides. He has the experience Musk needs, first helping to launch YouTube’s early creator program and more recently as TikTok’s CEO. I’ve also heard rumblings that he may be planning to quit TikTok/ByteDance this year.
Against. If Musk is primarily looking for someone who big advertisers know to lead Twitter, he wouldn’t be the best choice because his focus has been mostly on product and creators.
Jim Lanzo, Yahoo CEO
The sides. Lanzone’s background is more in media and advertising, aside from his brief stint as Tinder’s CEO. He currently leads Yahoo, but could jump for the right opportunity. He has ties to the advertising community and operational experience that Musk could use and the constitution to combat Musk’s antics.
Against. It’s unclear if he would want to work for Musk and take the headache that is Twitter right now.
Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram
The sides. When it comes to pedigree and product chops, the co-founder and former CEO of Instagram is definitely the best choice. He’s been quiet since leaving Instagram/Facebook in 2018 after falling out with Mark Zuckerberg, though last year on Lex Friedman’s podcast he expressed his interest in the TikTok model of social media, disconnecting internal offers from someone’s social graph. That’s exactly what Musk wants Twitter to focus on, too.
Against. He’s already worked for an opinionated founder/CEO, made a lot of money, and probably doesn’t want to do it all over again. It also doesn’t have the degree of influence with the advertising community that Musk is likely seeking.
Honorable mentions went to me: Adam Bain, Susan Wojcicki, Sarah Friar, Kevon Bakepour, and Kevin Weil. Do I miss someone else? Keep me posted…