The Code Conference 2023 featured some of the top names in business and tech, including AMD CEO Lisa Su, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, and Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe. The highlight of the event was an interview with X (formerly Twitter) CEO Linda Yaccarino at the end of day two — which became all the more high stakes after Kara Swisher invited Twitter’s former trust and safety leader, Yoel Roth, to speak just an hour beforehand.
The Verge reported from the conference live across two days, and you can catch up on all the highlights below. Code 2023 was co-hosted by The Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel, Platformer founder Casey Newton, and CNBC senior media and tech correspondent Julia Boorstin.
- Roth’s advice to Twitter’s new leaders?
- Listen to Casey Bloys avoid responding to my question about the upcoming Harry Potter show on Max.
- Artifact is becoming Twitter, too
- Spotify just increased prices, but you might want to get ready for more.
- Here’s how AMD CEO Lisa Su thinks about competing with Apple.
- Here’s what it’s like to use Google’s amazing next-generation video chat technology.
- Roblox hasn’t given up on China.
- A Rivian vehicle without a steering wheel? “That’s not in our roadmap today.”
On Wednesday evening, X CEO Linda Yaccarino appeared onstage at the Code Conference with frustration and protest. “I think many people in this room were not fully prepared for me to still come out on the stage,” she told interviewer Julia Boorstin, senior media and tech correspondent at CNBC.Read Article >
Yaccarino sounded rattled. She’d found out earlier in the day that Kara Swisher, a Code Conference co-founder, had booked a surprise guest to appear an hour before her: Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety. He has been an outspoken critic of the direction Elon Musk has taken the site.
I co-hosted the Code Conference last week, and today’s episode is one of my favorite conversations from the show: Microsoft CTO and EVP of AI Kevin Scott. If you caught Kevin on Decoder a few months ago, you know that he and I love talking about technology together. I really appreciate that he thinks about the relationship between technology and culture as much as we do at The Verge, and it was great to add the energy from the live Code audience to that dynamic.Read Article >
Kevin and I talked about how things are going with Bing and Microsoft’s AI efforts in general now that the initial hype has subsided — I really wanted to know if Bing was actually stealing users from Google.
We spend a lot of time here on Decoder talking about electric vehicles and the future of cars, and we’re usually talking about passenger vehicles or maybe cargo vans. But there’s another huge industry that can also reap the benefits of electrified transportation: agriculture.Read Article >
I co-hosted the Code Conference this week, where I had the opportunity to hang out onstage with Monarch Tractor CEO Praveen Penmetsa. Honestly, this was one of my favorite conversations of the entire event.
- “A platform in transformation”
is X CEO Linda Yaccarino’s description of the state of her company.
CNBC interviewer Julia Boorstin had been pushing Yaccarino for hard numbers on the state of X — whether it’s growing, shrinking, turning a profit. Yaccarino said, essentially, none of that matters as long as there’s no social media equivalent to X.
- What does it really mean to be CEO of X?
Linda Yaccarino didn’t quite answer that question while onstage at Code, but she did pose a question that, frankly, feels easier to answer: “Who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side running product?”
The buzz out of the Code Conference this week is, naturally, all about the disastrous performance of X / Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, who closed out the two-day affair in spectacular fashion. Vox’s Peter Kafka, who has been going to the conference since it started in 2008, called it “the weirdest session I’ve ever seen.” If I had to sum up the vibe as everyone trickled off to dinner afterward, it would be stunned disbelief. As for Yaccarino, she immediately fled the premises with her six-person security detail.Read Article >
Given how her first interview on the job with CNBC went about a month ago, I had low expectations for her ability to field questions from the tough-as-nails Julia Boorstin on the Code stage. But nothing could have prepared me for how woefully unequipped she was to hold her own. There was something poetic about the Financial Times dropping a profile of her that same day with a photo in a literal crucifix pose.
Today, we’re bringing you something a little different. The Code Conference was this week, and we had a great time talking live onstage with all of our guests. We’ll be sharing a lot of these conversations here in the coming days, and the first one we’re sharing is my chat with Dr. Lisa Su, the CEO of AMD.Read Article >
Lisa and I spoke for half an hour, and we covered an incredible number of topics, especially about AI and the chip supply chain. These past few years have seen a global chip shortage, exacerbated by the pandemic, and now, coming out of it, there’s suddenly another big spike in demand thanks to everyone wanting to run AI models. The balance of supply and demand is overall in a pretty good place right now, Lisa told us, with the notable exception of these high-end GPUs powering all of the large AI models that everyone’s running.
- Why isn’t X on Linda Yaccarino’s home screen?
During her bizarre interview at the Code Conference yesterday, Yaccarino held up her iPhone to the audience while seemingly indicating that it was supposed to represent X. I was sitting near the front of the stage and squinting to try and see what was on it.
Thanks to the magic of video and this screengrab from my colleague Vjeran, we have the goods. X doesn’t appear to be on her home screen but, incredibly, Facebook and Instagram are. I also spot Signal — Elon Musk’s messaging app of choice — and the Holy Bible, which really is the original super app if you think about it. (Also, Settings in the dock? What are you doing, Linda!)
Sep 28This AI robot gave me a manicure.
I gave Clockwork’s manicure robot a try at the Code Conference. After I picked out a nail polish color, it took about 10 minutes to walk out with a fresh manicure.
Clockwork doesn’t file or shape your nails — it just paints one coat of polish, using AI to identify where to paint.
I don’t see this replacing the nail salon experience, but it could be helpful if you’re in a pinch and need something quick. So far, my polish is holding up pretty well. Clockwork is currently available at these locations and costs $10.
- Yoel Roth and Linda Yaccarino made the end of Code... interesting, to say the least.
Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, was a late add to the agenda, and that meant two of the last sessions of the event were a kind of meta conversation about Twitter’s past and X’s future.
Catch clips of both interviews and some of my thoughts in our video recapping the interviews, and you can read more real-time thoughts in our storystream. If you want to watch the interviews yourself, virtual passes are available here right now.
- Here’s one of the oddest moments of the Linda Yaccarino interview.
Julia Boorstin asked her to confirm that X would start charging users to post, as Musk floated a week ago. Yaccarino was not so sure:
- That’s it for the Code Conference 2023!
We’ll have a few more videos to share as we wrap things up, so check back in for some of the key moments. And if you want all the details, read back through our StoryStream below.
- And we’re wrapped.
There was a recurring theme to Yaccarino’s answers: she keeps defending X from statements and choices by Elon Musk.
Harassment of Yoel Roth? Linked to Musk. Advertisers fleeing the platform because of chaotic moderation decisions before she was hired? Musk. A dispute with a well-regarded nonprofit combatting anti-Semitism? Musk.
She’s surprisingly good at diffusing these questions, but you’d think that X would want to talk about literally anything other problems caused by Musk.
- Yaccarino disputed a report that X was disassembling its election integrity team.
She didn’t dispute that some members of the team had been fired, but she said X is expanding its work to combat platform manipulation and disinformation overall.
“It’s an issue we take very seriously,” she said. “And contrary to the comments that were made, there is a robust and growing team at X that is wrapping their arms around election integrity.”
- “I wish that would be different. We’re looking into that,”
Yaccarino says in response to the dispute between Musk and the Anti-Defamation League.
I think the implication is that she wishes the ADL — a nonprofit focused on combating anti-Semitism — would stop criticizing X for its moderation problems and calling on advertisers to abandon the platform.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt “continues to question the progress as it relates to anti-Semitism,” Yaccarino says. “It is disappointing that there is not equal time given to all the progress.”
- The exchange on X’s subscription requirement was a weird one.
When Boorstin asked about how the plan would impact X usage, Yaccarino asked her to clarify.
“Did he say we were moving to it specifically, or did he say that’s the plan?” she asked
Boorstin pushed her on whether they’d discussed it first. “We talk about everything,” she said. But the exchange does not, exactly, have me convinced.
- X now has 200-250 million daily active users. Maybe?
“Something like that,” Yaccarino said on stage. She pulled out her phone like she was going to double check the number, then got sidetracked by a long answer.
Later, she threw out as examples 540 million monthly active users and 225 million daily active users without quite committing to them being real figures.
- Some metrics about X, according to Linda Yaccarino.
From an “operating cash flow perspective,” the company is “just about break even.” In early 2024, “we’ll be turning a profit.”
90 percent of the top 100 advertisers have returned to the platform. In the last 12 weeks, about 1,500 have returned.
- Yaccarino was dismissive of Roth’s concerns about death threats, too.
Roth said his advice to her was to think about the risks of working with Musk and “what she might face.”
To Yaccarino, having safety concerns comes with the territory of being a CEO. “I feel great. I’m well protected,” she said. Yaccarino said she appreciated his concerns. “I think that’s just a human emotion when you get thrust into such a public spotlight.”
- Linda Yaccarino, unsurprisingly, thinks things are going great at X.
“There is no analog for the book that is being written right now,” she said onstage at Code. That sounds like a ridiculously lofty claim to me! She says that there have been over 100 products shipped since the acquisition.
- Yaccarino responds to Yoel Roth: “I work at X, he worked at Twitter.”
The house is packed right now for Yaccarino’s interview, particularly after the surprise of Roth’s appearance. She opens the conversation with a response to Roth, saying that his Twitter was “operating on a different sets of rules ... ideologies that were creeping down the road of censorship.”
She doesn’t exactly engage with Roth’s assertion that X is doing less to stop harassment on the platform.
“It’s a new day at X,” Yaccarino said. “And I’ll leave it at that.”