Uber, the rapidly-growing car share startup, has hired Democratic strategist David Plouffe as SVP of policy and strategy to lead its ongoing regulatory challenges.
Founded in 2009, Uber provides private rides to consumers that can be arranged using a mobile app that is available in more than 70 cities worldwide. While Uber has been open about its plans for continued global expansion, along the way, the startup has encountered a series of roadblocks from regulators, such as its legality coming into question in New York and protests in Europe resulting in major traffic congestion.[caption id="attachment_2775" align="alignright" width="150"] David Plouffe[/caption]
When Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced the news of Plouffe joining today via the startup’s blog, he said the hire was in response to Uber finding itself “in the middle of a political campaign” against “the Big Taxi cartel” as its opponent. Kalanick had made it “a top priority” since earlier this year to find a leader “who could help cities and citizens understand the Uber mission – someone who believed in our cause, who understood how to build a meaningful brand, who knew how to scale a political campaign, and who knew how to get the support on the ground to win.”
As a longtime Democratic political strategist Plouffe played an integral role in Barack Obama’s successful 2008 presidential bid and went on to work as a senior advisor for the Obama administration and later became assistant to the president and senior advisor from 2011 to 2013, replacing David Axelrod. He left the White House in 2013 following Obama’s 2012 re-election.
“We needed someone who understood politics but who also had the strategic horsepower to reinvent how a campaign should be run – a campaign for a global company operating in cities from Boston and Beijing to London and Lagos,” Kalanick stated in his blog.
For Uber, Plouffe — who starts in late September — will be looked upon as a strategic partner, managing all global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts.“Uber has the chance to be a once in a decade if not a once in a generation company,” Plouffe said about his new role on the company blog. “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.”