She is joining Canaan Partners as VP of communications
Uber’s veteran director of communications is stepping down from her role after three and a half years, Recode has learned. Nairi Hourdajian, who started at the company as the head of global communications, is joining venture firm Canaan Partners as the vice president of communications.
Hourdajian, who joined the company in 2013, was Uber’s first communications person and has seen the company through countless scandals as well as policy battles. Then, when David Plouffe joined the company in August 2014 as the SVP of Policy and Communications, Hourdijian worked directly under the political operative.
Shortly after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick then hired former Google communications head Rachel Whetstone to replace Plouffe a little less than a year after Plouffe began his tenure and Hourdajian’s title was changed from head of global communications to director of corporate communications.
Now operating in that number two communications spot directly under Whetstone is Snapchat’s former vice president of communications Jill Hazelbaker. Hazelbaker, who joined Uber in November 2015, worked with Whetstone at Google.
But, Hazelbaker isn’t the only ex-Googler who joined the ranks of Uber’s policy and communications team. Almost immediately after Whetstone joined Uber, the company’s existing policy team that worked under Plouffe and Hourdijian was gutted to make room for a number of former Google employees, as Recode previously reported. (Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the Googlers who joined Uber and the Uber policy and communications staff that were fired, laid off or left under Whetstone.)
The personnel changes were accompanied by a shift in the company’s messaging from focusing on regulatory battles and policy to promoting Uber as a consumer product. While Uber still has a number of policy battles to grapple with even in the U.S., the company has gone from fighting for legality to working closely with local governments — some of which are even subsidizing Uber rides. So it’s not surprising that the company has chosen to shift gears.
Now, few policy and communications staffers who were part of Uber’s original policy team (circa 2013, 2014) remains at the company in their prior roles. Hourdajian, who sent a company-wide email announcing she was leaving on Wednesday, was among the last of the policy team that was responsible for helping legalize Uber at record pace across the U.S.
Hourdijian will be taking on a similar role at Canaan which has focused on investing in early stage companies and was founded in 1987.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed her departure and had this to say: “Nairi is a talented executive who helped build Uber’s policy and communications team from the ground up. We are grateful for her hard work and commitment to Uber and we wish her the best in her new role. Canaan is lucky to have her.”