Who should be Twitter’s next CEO? Your best (and worst) ideas

A Twitter has-been, an Elon Musk insider, or maybe Snoop Dogg?
Who should be Twitter’s next CEO? Your best (and worst) ideas
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)
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Elon Musk is teasing a departure from Twitter’s executive suite less than two months after he took over the social media company.

Musk, the world’s second-richest person, has run the company himself since buying it in October. He quickly became a vector for controversy, suspending his critics and ruling by Twitter poll and personal whim.

After a particularly combative weekend banning journalists and blocking competitor links from the website, Musk posted his most eyebrow-raising poll yet:

More than 17 million users cast their votes, and 57% asked Musk to step down—Musk lost his own popularity contest.

Two days after the poll closed, Musk kind-of, sort-of acknowledged that he lost. “I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.”

Musk’s promise to leave is as thin as rice paper. He was never going to run Twitter forever, so it’s not clear that the poll results change, or even speed up, his original plan. And as my colleague Ananya Bhattacharya wrote, Musk is making the job sound grossly unappealing.

But if we believe Musk that he will at some point appoint a new CEO, then who should it be? We crowdsourced some of the best (and worst) ideas from the Quartz newsroom and from Twitter for your consideration.

Scenario 1: Musk picks an outside business leader

There is an infinite pool of talent Musk can draw from, if anyone would agree to work under him. But some names repeatedly popped up in our crowdsourcing operation: Sheryl Sandberg, the former Meta COO; Stewart Butterfield, the Flickr and Slack co-founder, who is departing as chief of Slack, now owned by by Salesforce, in January; Hamish McKenzie, the Substack co-founder who published a book about Elon Musk and Tesla in 2018; Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, who already invested $1 billion in Musk’s Twitter bid; and Reddit co-founder and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian.

Other tech execs: Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group; John Legere, former CEO of T-Mobile (who volunteered for the job); former Wikimedia chief Katherine Maher; current Wikimedia chief Maryana Iskander; Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dopfner; Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman; former Google CEO Eric Schmidt; Apple senior vice president of services Eddy Cue; Napster co-founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker; Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo; Digg co-founder Jay Adelson; OnlyFans founder and former CEO Tim Stokely; Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce; entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

One final idea: Vanessa Pappas, the COO of TikTok, is no stranger to leading embattled social media companies. After Kevin Mayer resigned as CEO of TikTok in August 2020, Pappas led the company through a contentious period during which Donald Trump tried to outlaw the app in the US. Her experience navigating China’s commercial landscape could also come in handy to Musk, who relies heavily on Chinese relations for Tesla.

Scenario 2: Musk draws from his inner circle

Of course, Musk could draw a CEO from his established cadre of advisors. Silicon Valley investors Jason Calacanis and David Sacks are already working in advisory roles at Musk’s Twitter, along with financial advisor Jared Birchall and lawyer Alex Spiro. Or, one of Musk’s reply guys such as @catturd2 or Billy Markus, the creator of dogecoin. What about any of the journalists Musk has leaked the so-called Twitter Files to, such as Bari Weiss or Matt Taibbi?

One final idea: Sriram Krishnan, who formerly led product teams at Snap, Facebook, Microsoft is already advising Musk’s Twitter. Krishnan previously worked at Twitter from 2017 to 2019, giving him a unique blend of actual experience and Musk’s trust.

Scenario 3: Musk appoints a Twitter insider

Musk would be wise to appoint a CEO who actually has experience running Twitter. That could be Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO, who is friends with Musk and played a key role planting the seed in Musk’s brain that he should buy Twitter. It’s doubtful that Dorsey would return for a third stint as chief executive, but he has something few others do: Musk’s respect.

It could also be Bret Taylor, the former Twitter board chair and Salesforce co-CEO. Having recently stepped down from both positions, Taylor’s schedule is much more free, but after spending the better part of the year in a legal spat with Musk, he’s rather unlikely to be offered or accept the job. Parag Agrawal, the most recent CEO, is obviously qualified, but Musk has repeatedly dragged him through the mud.

Other insiders: co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, former sales chief Sarah Personette, and former chief people officer Leslie Berland.

One final idea: Tony Haile (founder of Chartbeat and former CEO of Scroll, which was acquired by Twitter). Haile was laid off from Twitter in November, but Scroll’s products form the basis for Twitter Blue, the subscription offering Musk has repeatedly touted. Haile has publicly criticized Musk, but also stated he wants Twitter to succeed. “I want the incredible people remaining at Twitter to be given the opportunity to reshape it and make it better than ever and I hope that the chaos subsides long enough for them to do so,” he wrote on Nov. 4.

Scenario 4: Musk goes rogue

In crowdsourcing ideas for this story, we received some wacky responses. How about any of the following disgraced business execs: Adam Neumann, Sam Bankman-Fried, Elizabeth Holmes, Travis Kalanick, Martin Shkreli, or Anna Delvey? Or these politicos with far too much time on their hands: Peter Meijer, Justin Amash, Beto O’Rourke, Dr. Oz, Blake Masters, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, or Herschel Walker?

There’s Snoop Dogg, of course, who volunteered for the job. Perhaps he’ll bring along his pal Martha Stewart and they can run it together. Snoop’s poll asking, “Should I run Twitter?” garnered an affirmative vote with 81% saying yes.

We also received suggestions for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, any of the Try Guys (past or present), Real Housewives star and entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel, filmmaker Tyler Perry, and Goop vanguard Gwyneth Paltrow.

Other proposals for Musk

  • “Scrap the CEO position and make Twitter a worker-owned cooperative” - Julia Malleck, Quartz
  • “An AI version of Elon Musk called Aelon Husk” - also Julia Malleck, Quartz
  • X [Musk’s youngest child] is CEO, but all 10 kids get an equal slice of the company, leading to extremely complex family infighting.” - Zach Seward, Quartz
  • Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan sue Twitter down and rise as co-CEOs” - Gabriela Riccardi, Quartz
  • Any woman”:
  • “What if it’s just a collective of leaders from collapsed social platforms past trying to give it one more go: Jonathan Abrams (Friendster) Ramu Yalamanchi (hi5), the Vine guys, [and] Tom from Myspace” - also Gabriela Riccardi, Quartz
  • Me (I won’t do it. Wait, actually, how much are they paying?):