NEW YORK, N.Y. – Uber is stepping up its political game with a high-powered new hire.
The taxi-alternative service is hiring a former White House adviser to lead its campaign for acceptance in the 170 cities around the world where it operates.
David Plouffe, best known for running President Obama’s 2008 campaign, is joining the company as senior vice-president of policy and strategy beginning in September.
Uber lets smartphone users use an app to locate nearby part-time drivers for the service, who use their own cars to ferry around passengers, as well as locate yellow cabs in cities like New York.
The service has met with resistance from taxi services and local governments in some cities, due to safety fears and complaints that the service can dodge rules taxicabs must follow.
In a blog post, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick compared privately held Uber to a political candidate competing against “the Big Taxi cartel,” which has used “decades of political contributions and influence to restrict competition, reduce choice for consumers, and put a stranglehold on economic opportunity for its drivers.”
He said Plouffe’s “expertise, wisdom, and strategic mindset” is a good choice for the San Francisco-based startup. Kalanick said Uber services have reduced drunken-driving incidents, generated jobs and improved local economies.