Uber has hired one of President Barack Obama’s top political advisers to help wage an increasingly fierce turf war with taxi cab associations.
David Plouffe, the Democratic strategist who successfully steered Obama’s 2008 bid for the White House, will join Uber as Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy and manage the company’s global campaign to extend its ride-sharing service to new cities, the company announced Tuesday.
“Our opponent – the Big Taxi cartel – 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,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a statement on the company’s blog. “We needed someone who understood politics but who also had the strategic horsepower to reinvent how a campaign should be run.”
Plouffe said in a statement that he is “thrilled to be joining Travis Kalanick and the great team at Uber.”
“I’ve watched as the taxi industry cartel has tried to stand in the way of technology and big change,” Plouffe added. “Ultimately, that approach is unwinnable.”
Taxi-hailing and ride-sharing services, including Uber, Lyft and others, have frequently been threatened with cease and desist orders from city officials who accuse the companies of working outside of the regulatory framework set up for licensed taxi drivers.
Uber hiring Plouffe should also put to bed rumors that the political strategist might head back to the White House to serve as Obama’s Chief of Staff.