Uber Hires Former Obama Campaign Manager to Battle the 'Big Taxi Cartel'
It's been a tumultuous day at the executive level in the ridesharing sector today.
Earlier this afternoon, news broke that Lyft COO Travis VanderZanden is leaving the company after an 18-month stint (rumor has it he clashed with the company's founders). Not to be outdone, Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick made a pretty significant announcement of his own, revealing that David Plouffe, President Obama's former campaign manager and White House adviser, has been hired as the company's new senior vice president of policy and strategy.
Officially, Plouffe will oversee Uber's global branding, communications and policy, but more succinctly, as Kalanick summed it up for Politico, he will be the transportation network's "campaign manager."
Kalanick's use of politically charged language to describe his company – "There’s an incumbent … the big taxi cartel … and we’re the challenger," he told the outlet -- emphasizes the important role Plouffe will play in helping Uber expand despite resistance from regulators and local governments.
"Uber has been in a campaign but hasn’t been running one," Kalanick wrote in a blog post announcing the news. "That is changing now."
In this respect, of course, both Plouffe's extensive political experience and connections comes in handy. “We’ll be trying to change the point of view of established politicians, and there’s a lot of resistance coming from people who want to protect the status quo,” Plouffe told Politico.
Plouffe, who managed both of Obama's presidential campaigns and served as a senior adviser to the president, left the White House in January 2013.