Uber hires former top Obama aide Plouffe to oversee comms, policy

David Plouffe "will be managing all global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts," the company's CEO, Travis Kalanick, wrote in a blog post on the hire.

SAN FRANCISCO: Uber has named former Obama for America campaign manager David Plouffe as SVP of policy and strategy, effective late next month.

Plouffe "will be managing all global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts," the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, wrote in a blog post on the hire.

Plouffe is a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and managed his 2008 campaign. He has been a contributor to ABC News and Bloomberg since leaving the White House in 2013. Plouffe also worked for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO).

Kalanick commented in the post that Plouffe "built the startup that elected a president."

Kalanick said on a conference call that he began speaking with Plouffe during his trips to Washington.

"There was a political campaign being run against Uber and I had to go get educated on what that meant," he said. "Eventually [Plouffe] and I ended up in the same room."

Soon, Kalanick added, it "really started to make sense we should do something together."

Plouffe said that while there are differences between his former campaign work and his duties at Uber, there are also some similar "fundamentals," such as implementing a strategy, storytelling, and "understanding what the end goal is."

Andrew Noyes, former head of corporate communications at Uber, left the role in May. He joined the ride-sharing company the year before from Facebook, where he had managed comms and public policy since 2009. Noyes joined Brigade Media, a civic-engagement startup supported by Silicon Valley luminaries such as Sean Parker and Marc Benioff, in June.

Plouffe is taking a role at Uber as the car service, along with rivals such as Lyft, are facing challenges to operate in a number of states. The two ride-sharing services reached a deal with officials in Virginia earlier this month to allow them to maintain their operations in the state.

The company has also faced challenges from taxi drivers and unions in a number of cities and states. More than a dozen lawsuits around the country have also accused Uber of incidences involving wrongful death, regulatory complaints, and withheld tips.

With its top communications role open, Uber had been courting a number of prominent politicos in recent months, including former Hillary Clinton aide Howard Wolfson and former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, according to a July report in Re/code.

Carney was also reportedly in talks with Apple about a top comms role at the technology giant, though he has not accepted a corporate job since leaving the White House earlier this summer.

This story was updated at 4pm ET on August 19 to include comments from Kalanick and Plouffe.

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