Nairi Hourdajian: The Innovation 50

Head of global communications, Uber

Uber is "changing the way cities work, and that’s fundamentally a third rail," CEO Travis Kalanick said in an interview with Re/code at the Code Conference last May. "We’re in a political campaign, and the candidate is Uber." As part of the global communications team at the transportation startup, Nairi Hourdajian is a key player in that campaign.

Uber may have won over some customers with its convenient taxi-hailing app and extra promotions such as ice-cream delivery in the summer, but the taxi industry is fighting hard against it. Earlier this year, cab drivers in cities including Washington, DC, London, Paris, Madrid, and Berlin gridlocked traffic in protest against Uber and similar apps. Uber has also faced regulatory bans in cities such as Berlin and is in fierce competition with rival Lyft, both of which have accused each other of ordering rides and then canceling them to slow down services. To further its campaign, Uber last month brought on former Obama for America aide David Plouffe as SVP of policy and strategy.

Uber widened its reach at the end of August, launching in 24 new markets. Hourdajian and her team have raised Uber’s brand awareness amid its battle, but heated challenges around the world prove not everyone takes kindly to disruption from the tech industry.

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