SAN FRANCISCO: Lyft has picked up former Pandora comms head Will Valentine as VP of communications.
Valentine started at Lyft on Monday. He is reporting to Melissa Waters, Lyft’s head of marketing. The two worked together at Pandora, where Waters was VP of marketing.
Valentine took over the role from Brandon McCormick, who left the comms VP position in October. Since then, Sheila Bryson, director of corporate and consumer communications, has served as interim head of comms. Bryson will continue to play a senior leadership role on the team.
As comms head, Valentine will work to advance Lyft’s corporate reputation to all stakeholder groups and make Lyft central to people’s lives.
"This is a company that is on a path to change the world and do a lot of good in the process and I can’t wait to get started," said Valentine.
In the past two years, Lyft’s comms team has doubled in size from six to 15 staffers. Last year, Lyft brought on Bridget Starkey as director of consumer communications, Waters as marketing VP, and Adrian Durbin as head of policy communications.
Valentine departed Pandora in November after a three-year stint leading the company’s communications and policy teams. He joined Pandora in July 2013 to build and lead the communications function, shortly after the company went public. At the time, Pandora was facing crises including a full-fledged artist revolt and the pending launch of the now-defunct iTunes Radio.
Prior to Pandora, Valentine spent 11 years at Visa in various PR leadership roles.
Lyft got in a war of words last month with Uber over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven countries. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance directed its 19,000 members to participate in a one-hour strike at John F. Kennedy International Airport in solidarity with protesters.
Uber later tweeted that it turned off surge-pricing at the airport, effectively undercutting taxi drivers as they returned to work after protesting. Lyft, meanwhile, denounced the ban and made a million-dollar pledge to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Asked if Lyft has seen an uptick in numbers since then, Bryson said, "We aren't commenting on any 2017 growth numbers at this time."