X advertisers stay away as CEO defends Musk’s “go f*** yourself” interview

Enlarge / X CEO Linda Yaccarino speaks onstage during Vox Media’s 2023 Code Conference on September 27, 2023 in Dana Point, California.

Getty Images | Jerod Harris

X CEO Linda Yaccarino called owner Elon Musk “candid and profound” in a memo to staff addressing the public interview in which Musk told advertisers to “go fuck yourself.”

“Elon’s interview was candid and profound,” Yaccarino wrote in a memo to employees of X (formerly Twitter) yesterday. “He shared an unmatched and completely unvarnished perspective and vision for the future. If you haven’t watched it, please take the time to absorb the magnitude and importance of what we’re all a part of.”

Yaccarino was referring to Musk’s on-stage interview at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit on Wednesday. Musk spoke about two weeks after he posted a favorable response to an antisemitic tweet, causing an advertiser backlash that added to X’s already significant financial struggles.

When asked about trying to win back advertisers, Musk said, “I hope they stop. Don’t advertise.” He accused advertisers of trying to “blackmail me with money,” and said, “Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.”

Yaccarino: “Our principles do not have a price tag”

Yaccarino’s full memo to staff addressing Musk’s interview was published by CNBC. “Our mission at X is bold: to be an open platform without censorship of thought—one that provides people information and the freedom to make up their own minds,” she wrote. “Our principles do not have a price tag, nor will they be compromised—ever. And no matter how hard they try, we will not be distracted by sideline critics who don’t understand our mission.”

Yaccarino said she is “immensely proud to lead this company,” and told employees they should feel the same. “You’re at X because you have the courage and conviction to build and operationalize the most consequential platform that exists. That’s quite an enviable position to be in,” Yaccarino wrote.

Yaccarino told staff that X is part of a “one-of-a-kind constellation of companies” led by Musk. “We’re at one of the most maverick companies in the world and we get to do things that have never been done before,” she wrote. “X sits in a one-of-a-kind constellation of companies that are changing the world—from helping to conserve the planet through Tesla’s electric vehicles, to exploring new planets with SpaceX, to the seamless global connectivity of Starlink, to the potential of transforming lives with Neuralink, to responsibly reimagining the benefits of AGI through xAI.”

Yaccarino also defended Musk publicly in a post on twitter.com, writing that the X owner “offered an apology, an explanation and an explicit point of view about our position. X is enabling an information independence that’s uncomfortable for some people. We’re a platform that allows people to make their own decisions.”

On November 15, Musk replied, “You have said the actual truth” to an X post that said Jewish communities are “pushing hatred against whites.” At the DealBook interview, he called the post “foolish” and said, “I should in retrospect not have replied to that one person and should have written in greater length what I meant.”

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