Uber is adding some political muscle to its operations as it continues to engage in a regulatory battles across the globe.
The heavily-funded transportation service has named David Plouffe — best known for helping to get Barack Obama elected in 2008 — as its Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy.
“I couldn’t be more excited about Uber’s new leader who will be bringing the expertise, wisdom, and strategic mindset to the next phase of the Uber movement, shepherding us well beyond the challenges of the Big Taxi cartel, and into the brave new world of software-powered transportation,” said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
Uber raised $1.2 billion earlier this summer, with the round coming in at a whopping $17 billion pre-money valuation. The company was founded in 2010, and is now operating its transportation service in more than 170 cities worldwide.
Kalanick noted his desire to hire someone like Plouffe back in May when he talked about the political campaign Uber was in against an “asshole” opponent named “Taxi.”
“I think it’s a big deal for us to work with somebody like David Plouffe to bring Uber into that next phase of achieving our mission,” Kalanick said during a conference call today. “I like think of him as a strategic thought partner and a brilliant general.”
Plouffe will relocate to San Francisco next month and leave his job with ABC and Bloomberg. Kalanick said that his newest employee will help Uber better tell its story as it enters more markets and works with legislators.
“If there are barriers, we have to have a strategy to eliminate those barriers,” Plouffe said.
Uber has run into multiple issues with local governments around the world concerning the legality of its business operations. After much back-and-forth, Seattle recently inked a compromise agreement with Uber and other transportation services to permit them to operate in the city.
Here’s more from Plouffe about why he accepted the job:
I am thrilled to be joining Travis Kalanick and the great team at Uber. As Uber succeeds like I believe it can, it will spur the creation of hundreds of thousands of small businesses and directly create millions of jobs; deliver rapid, easy and affordable transportation alternatives to workers, parents, businesses and people out having a good time; make our roads safer, drastically cutting down on drunk and distracted driving; and give those who choose not to purchase an automobile a more viable way to live their lives day to day.
Uber has only been around a few years. In that short time, some companies can begin to lose their start up mentality and sense of urgency – and insurgency. Not Uber. This is a hungry team, with big vision and the skills to execute on that vision. The strength and character of the senior leadership team Travis has assembled is one of the major reasons I’ve decided to join them. And when you walk thru Uber’s HQ in San Francisco, the place is pulsating with young, brilliant and dedicated employees who believe they are part of doing something historic and meaningful and won’t take no for an answer. It’s a feeling I’ve been fortunate to experience previously and feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by that talent and energy one more time.
Uber has the chance to be a once in a decade if not a once in a generation company. Of course, that poses a threat to some, and I’ve watched as the taxi industry cartel has tried to stand in the way of technology and big change. Ultimately, that approach is unwinnable. But I look forward to doing what I can right now to ensure drivers and riders are not denied their opportunity for choice in transportation due to those who want to maintain a monopoly and play the inside game to deny opportunity to those on the outside.
I could not be more excited to join such a vibrant company and its people who will be at the absolute leading edge of tomorrow’s innovations and changing people’s lives and their cities for the better. It will be a privilege to jump in the foxhole with the team at this great startup and get to work.