SAN FRANCISCO: Uber is bringing on Jill Hazelbaker – the second former Google comms exec the company has hired in less than six months – as VP of communications and public policy.
Hazelbaker starts in the newly created role in early November and will report to Uber’s SVP of policy and communications Rachel Whetstone, a source familiar with the matter told PRWeek.
Hazelbaker also reported to Whetstone when they worked together at Google. Whetstone joined Uber in May, taking over the SVP position from David Plouffe, who joined Uber last August and is now a chief advisor to the company and CEO Travis Kalanick.
As part of her role, Hazelbaker is charged with overseeing corporate and executive communications globally as well as public policy and communications throughout the Americas, the source said.
Hazelbaker’s move to Uber comes one year after she joined photo-sharing app Snapchat as VP of communications and public policy. She relocated from London to Los Angeles for the role.
A rep from Snapchat was not immediately available to comment on whether or not Hazelbaker is being replaced.
She joined Google in 2010 as senior director of corporate communications and government affairs before moving into her most recent role last April as senior director of communications and government relations.
In that position, she oversaw Google’s product, corporate, and internal communications across EMEA, and was responsible for government relations in the European Union, leading a team of more than 100 staffers, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Before joining Google, Hazelbaker worked in US politics. She was national communications director for Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) failed 2008 presidential bid. Previously, she was senior comms adviser on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 reelection campaign.
Hazelbaker – who made PRWeek’s Innovation 50 list this year – was not immediately available for comment.
Over the last year, Uber has seen a number of departures from its communications team, including former head of corporate comms Andrew Noyes, former EMEA head of comms Rachel Channing, and EU head of policy Dominick Moxon-Tritsch. Evelyn Tay, head of Uber’s APAC comms, also left in May, after spending a year at the company.
In April, PRWeek reported that Uber brought on Gareth Mead from Virgin Media to lead communications in EMEA, while moving its PR function back in-house.
Uber has faced various reputational obstacles in the last year, such as backlash for an exec suggesting the company research the personal lives of critical journalists. Additionally, Uber has been dealing with dozens of lawsuits that accuse the company of incidences in the US including wrongful death, regulatory complaints, and withheld tips, as well as challenges from taxi drivers and unions in various cities and states.