Uber has enlisted David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign advisor, to devise and run its global political and branding strategy, as the fast-growing car rides-on-demand firm runs into stiff resistance from taxi companies in some cities.
The San Francisco-based startup, which is waging an intense campaign against taxi drivers who fear encroachment on their turf, said in a blog post on Tuesday that Plouffe will begin in late September as senior vice president of policy and strategy.
"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 Londonand Lagos," Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick said in the blog post.
Plouffe has a big job ahead. Many cities around the world are banning Uber. Berlin, last week, told Uber that it can no longer operate in the city, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
Of late, Uber and other similar ride-sharing apps have faced the ire of taxi drivers around the world, particularly in Europe, who are upset that an upstart like Uber can compete in their business without acquiring the same kinds of licensing and permission to operate, which can often be expensive to obtain. In June, for example, more than 30,000 disgruntled cab and limo drivers stalled traffic across European capitals in a mass protest against Uber. Similarly, though on a much smaller level, taxi drivers in Boston protested outside Uber's headquarters in the city, calling for increased regulation of the ride-sharing industry and saying that these types of apps threaten their livelihoods.
Plouffe, who left the White House in early 2013, "is a proven field general and strategist who built the startup that elected a President," Kalanick said.
Uber is one of the largest startups in California's Silicon Valley, reportedly valued at $10 billion or more. Like rival Lyft, it lets users call for a ride from their smartphones.