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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Plouffe, Uber, The Revolving Door, and Federalism

As a strategist for Barack Obama  David Plouffe denounced special interests.

  • "[T]he influence of lobbyists and special interests, who control too much of the agenda in Washington, must be reduced and the voices of the American people must be heard again." -- campaign memo, 11/13/2007
  • “The 500,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to kick the special interests out and change Washington.”  -- statement, 9/14/2008
  • "Instead of a government that works for the entitled and special interests, a government that looks out for Wall Street, they wanted a government that works better for them, a government that plays the role it should to help foster the security of the middle class." -- op-ed, 1/24/2010

 Uber CEO Travis Kalanick yesterday announced:
So today we are pleased to announce that David Plouffe will be joining Uber as our Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy. Starting in late September, David will be managing all global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts. I will look to him as a strategic partner on all matters as Uber grows around the world. David’s background needs little introduction. He is a proven field general and strategist who built the startup that elected a President.
I couldn’t be more excited about Uber’s new leader who will be bringing the expertise, wisdom, and strategic mindset to the next phase of the Uber movement, shepherding us well beyond the challenges of the Big Taxi cartel, and into the brave new world of software-powered transportation.
The Washington Post explains:
Uber is the latest Silicon Valley heavyweight to discover that tech disruption requires overcoming political and regulatory barriers. The past 20 years have been littered with examples of companies, from Microsoft to Apple to Facebook, learning, often late, that they must play in politics to continue to grow.
Uber, however, faces some unusually complex policy problems. Unlike other Internet startups that operate solely in cyberspace, Uber’s challenges exist in the taxi-line at airports, along busy downtown streets and on highways.
While tech companies have had to fight over privacy laws and patent rules in Washington, Uber faces a dizzying array of local laws developed by city councils, taxicab commissions and state governments. What’s more, the level of consumer support for Uber — and the intensity of the opposition — varies greatly.
Regulators increasingly have to decide who can provide transportation to the public, how drivers’ cars should be inspected, and what levels of insurance they should carry. Officials also have to weigh whether to allow an upstart to upend a long-running business model that has provided jobs and income to many communities.
This highly fragmented environment is where Plouffe, who is credited with shaping Obama’s highly successful 2008 fifty-state ground game, will be especially valuable, people close to him say.