Twitter is hemorrhaging advertisers, and new CEO Elon Musk's efforts to retain them have backfired spectacularly.
The tech entrepreneur's first month as Twitter owner has chased off half of the company's top 100 advertisers, who have paused spending over concerns about content moderation and the firing of most of its ad sales team, and Musk has been unable to strong-arm them into returning, reported the Financial Times.
"He seems to put off even those advertisers who wanted him to succeed," said one top advertising agency executive.
Twitter's ad business team has been cut so deeply that many agencies no longer have a point of contact at the company, and four industry insiders said they have received little or no communication in recent weeks, while others complain the ad systems aren't working properly since Musk took over.
"Tech issues on campaign management . . . mean it's completely unreliable as a platform to use," said Gabby Krite, head of digital operations at The Kite Factory.
Musk has tried to personally call the chief executives of some brands that have pulled advertising to berate them, according to one senior industry insider, but that has backfired as some companies have decided to cut spending to the bare minimum to avoid further confrontation.
"It is quite unique," said a senior executive at a big four advertising agency. "The turmoil, the damage, nothing of this magnitude has happened before -- never."
Musk's management, along with his near-daily controversial tweets, have left him with only one option to save the company he paid $44 billion to purchase in a deal finalized Oct. 27, according to industry insiders.
"Musk's best chance of bringing advertisers back to Twitter is to appoint a new CEO," said Darren Savage, chief strategy officer at Tribal Worldwide. "Particularly, one who understands what Twitter is, has the credibility with advertisers, and users — and is then left alone to do their job."