Uber announced on Tuesday that it has hired Target’s chief marketing officer Jeff Jones as its new president of ridesharing. He’ll be replacing Ryan Graves, who was Uber’s first hire and is a member of the company’s board. However, he won’t be leaving the company; CEO Travis Kalanick explained he’ll be “integrally involved with Uber as our resident entrepreneur and builder.”
In a blog post, Kalanick said that in his new role, Graves will be focused on overseeing Uber’s People Operations, developing the company’s uberEVERYTHING program, while also crafting ways to achieve “upcoming strategic projects.”
“Over the last six months, Ryan and I have become increasingly convinced that our rapidly growing marketing efforts needed to be far more integrated with our city operations. Marketing is about storytelling, about attracting, engaging, and retaining customers,” he wrote. “Of course, a majority of our city operations are focused on exactly that, but those efforts have been isolated from many of our marketing functions. Our vision is simple: To redefine how a large operations effort can be tightly integrated with a customer-obsessed marketing strategy.”
Bringing Jones on board could accomplish this, especially when you think that Uber is this massive company operating under a federalist-like system. The best way to try to win the hearts and minds of users, neighborhoods, and governments is to have a compelling story that’s uniform but distinct enough for each location, something Target has been pretty good at doing over the years.
Kalanick perhaps hopes that the lightning can strike twice. As part of his strategy to achieve his vision, Uber searched out a “world-class leader” that can bring in extensive experience in marketing and brand building while also growing a $20 billion a year ride-hailing business.
In his capacity, Jones will be responsible for Uber’s operations, marketing, and customer support globally, which also is something Target has experience in.
This is the latest shakeup in the company over the past couple of days — yesterday it was reported that Uber’s board no longer contained Alphabet executive David Drummond due to growing competition between the two companies.