Here’s a surprising little curveball for you today: Huffington Post cofounder Arianna Huffington is now a member of Uber’s board.
Founded in 2005, the Huffington Post has become one of the most-visited online news sites under the guidance of Arianna, who serves as editor in chief. She developed the news organization alongside cofounders Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti, who would later go on to create BuzzFeed
Referring to a time when Huffington regaled the public with a story about how she used Uber to “save” a family member from being stranded in a snowstorm, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that her raconteur credentials were one of the reasons he wanted her on the board.
“That ability to tell stories is invaluable for an engineer like me, whose natural tendency is to rely on data,” said Kalanick. “As I’ve discovered, that doesn’t always work perfectly. So it’s Arianna’s emotional intelligence that I am most excited to learn from. She’s one of the few people who begins every conversation by asking how you are, not how your business is doing. I’m confident she will bring some ethos and pathos to our Uber logos.”
“Arianna embodies the type of optimistic leadership we need as Uber continues to grow,” he added, “Her guidance has been invaluable to me personally over the years, and I know that in this new role she’ll help take Uber to the next level.”
It’s not unusual for tech companies to bolster their in-house expertise by pulling from other spheres. Just this month, Twitter added Martha Lane Fox — the British cofounder of travel website LastMinute.com — and PepsiCo vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) Hugh Johnston to its board. But Arianna joining Uber isn’t quite the same, given that she’s the head of a major media outlet — and today’s move will raise some serious questions about a potential conflict of interest.
Put another way, the next time Uber hits the headlines for the wrong reasons, all eyes will be on HuffPo’s coverage.