X CEO Yaccarino says Musk-owned platform could turn a profit next year

FILE PHOTO: 'X' logo is seen on the top of the headquarters of the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, in downtown San Francisco, California, U.S., July 30, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

(Reuters) - Social media platform X could turn a profit in early 2024, Chief Executive Officer Linda Yaccarino said on Wednesday, during a wide-ranging interview in which she defended the company's progress under billionaire owner Elon Musk.

The appearance at Vox Media's Code conference comes as Yaccarino marked 100 days as CEO of the platform formerly known as Twitter. She has faced questions over her autonomy in the role and the company's ability to court advertisers who have been wary of the rapid changes on the platform and Musk's controversial persona.

"The velocity of change and the scope of ambition at X really does not exist anywhere else," Yaccarino said.

When asked about third-party estimates that showed X's active app users have fallen to 25th place behind Samsung's clock app, Yaccarino said key metrics around time spent on X were "trending very, very positively," without providing specifics.

Yaccarino added that about 1,500 advertisers have returned to the platform in the last 12 weeks, and that 90% of the company's top 100 advertisers have returned.

While Yaccarino said the company could be profitable next year, X is also facing a number of lawsuits that allege it has failed to pay rent on its offices and millions of dollars in severance to thousands of employees who were laid off.

Since Musk acquired the social media company in October, X has struggled to retain advertisers who feared appearing next to unsuitable content, as researchers and activist groups have reported an increase in hateful posts.

Antisemitic content on X has been a focus in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Musk threatened a lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League, accusing the nonprofit that works to fight antisemitism of primarily causing a 60% decrease in U.S. ad revenue at X.

Musk's comments came just days after Yaccarino met with the ADL.

Asked on Wednesday about Musk's ADL fight, Yaccarino said it was "disappointing" that the organization did not acknowledge the progress that X has made on safety.

Earlier in the interview, she said X introduced new content moderation tools and features to prevent ads from appearing next to certain content, which hadn't existed before the acquisition.

Yaccarino also defended Musk's right to speak out on the platform.

"Freedom of speech is only successful if someone you disagree with says something you disagree with."

(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski and Sheila Dang; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christian Schmollinger)

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