Better call Plouffe. David Plouffe, President Obama's former campaign manager and White House adviser, has a new gig as senior vice president of policy and strategy at Uber, the rideshare app company CEO Travis Kalanick told POLITICO Tuesday.
In a blog post titled "A Leader for the Uber Campaign," Kalanick praises Plouffe's political acumen, writing that he "will look to him as a strategic partner on all matters as Uber grows around the world."
As Kalanick notes in the post, Plouffe is no stranger to startups. Obama's 2008 victory was largely seen as a wildly successful grassroots campaign that used what U.S. News & World Report called "his powerful techno-demographic appeal."
And that mix of political savvy and understanding Uber's customers (remember all that talk about Obama dominating the youth vote?) will come in handy for Plouffe. Even as Uber continues to expand into more cities worldwide, the company has faced complaints from established taxi services, as well as competition from rivals like Lyft. (Speaking of Lyft, the company's COO Travis VanderZanden has left the company, with sources telling Re/Code of tension at the company between VanderZanden and other execs.)
Kalanick acknowledges the challenges in his post, and writes that it's partly why the company
acquired hired Plouffe:
City and governments around the world have started to embrace the change Uber delivers... But our mission has become a surprisingly controversial topic. Over the years, what I've come to realize is that this controversy exists because we are in the middle of a political campaign and it turns out the candidate is Uber...
Earlier this year, I made it a top priority for Uber 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.
Naturally, the announcement has led to Twitter jokes at Plouffe's expense:
"Let me be clear: If you like your current Uber service, you can keep your current Uber service. Period."— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) August 19, 2014
Uber drivers, meanwhile, should get ready for a flurry of zero-star ratings from Republicans, as the GOP backed Uber in its fight against established taxi services.
Kalanick writes that Plouffe will start in late September. Read Plouffe's comments, posted beneath Kalanick's announcement, here:
A NEW MISSION
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.