Linda Yaccarino’s right-hand man out at X as global operations chief reportedly given the sack

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Working for Elon Musk can be the very definition of precarious employment. The entire Tesla Supercharger staff found that out the hard way when they were collectively given the sack with little explanation. 

Now it’s Joe Benarroch’s turn. The former head of global business operations for X— personally hired by CEO Linda Yaccarino just days into her job—is out after barely more than a year, according to his profile on LinkedIn. 

And the former NBCUniversal global advertising chair could herself be in the crosshairs according to a report by the Financial Times on Sunday. Citing anonymous informed sources, it wrote Yaccarino felt pressured to shake up her management team, firing Benarroch for allegedly failing to properly flag clients in advance that X would soon permit the consensual sharing of porn, citing three sources at the company. (Pornography has long been present on Twitter, but it was not previously officially permitted.)

While Benarroch’s reported blindsiding of clients could clearly have negative effects, Musk himself has also provided reasons for them to feel confused. Musk attempted to lure popular streamers away from Twitch by shaming the Amazon-owned rival over its failure to police its own platform for adult content. Flip-flopping just weeks later to make porn officially permissible content was bound to be controversial.

When approached by Fortune for a comment, X replied with the automated statement “busy now, please check back later”. Benarroch did not respond on X to a request for statement.

Musk’s social media platform has labored under heavy losses ever since he added $1 billion in annual interest to its cost base in order to fund his $44 billion acquisition in late October 2022. 

While X remains a privately-owned company, its problems potentially threaten to spill over to Tesla, as the EV manufacturer is the main source of wealth for Musk and share sales have been used to finance his Twitter endeavor. Tesla stock is down 50% since Musk’s interest in the social media platform became public in April 2022.

In September, Yaccarino suggested X could actually turn a profit in early 2024. But an investigation by a non-profit showing evidence that X had placed ads next to pro-Nazi posts subsequently triggered an exodus of advertisers from companies like Disney and ignited fresh worries over a possible financial collapse. Instead of diplomacy, Musk opted to go on the attack, threatening to name and shame advertisers in the event of X’s bankruptcy. 

Direct threat to Yaccarino’s authority

Musk appears unsatisfied with the pace of improvement at X and recently tapped his Boring Company CEO Steve Davis to have a closer look at its cost base in what Yaccarino confidantes told the FT was a direct challenge to her authority.

Yaccarino herself has faced constant speculation she is little more than a puppet CEO installed to take the heat off Musk’s management of the company and, when necessary, fall on any grenades for the centibillionaire. 

When she opened up last week about the difficulties overcoming her imposter syndrome—a feeling that one hasn’t truly earned their status and position—she was asked what was the best message she had ever received from him. 

Rather than cite an example of how he builds her up or encourages her to achieve her best, the first thing that came to Yaccarino’s mind was the day Musk announced her hire—not anything that happened in the 13 months since.

Yaccarino’s room to maneuver already was limited amid the ongoing losses and now she has to bear the blame for having personally vouched for Benarroch, her former aide, in the first place. 

Unless Yaccarino can better tap into her extensive rolodex to lure back her contacts in the ad industry, Benarroch may not be the only former NBCUniversal executive to find themselves updating their LinkedIn profile.

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