Uber adds Arianna Huffington to board of directors

Ronny Kerr · April 27, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4516

Data-driven startup hopes the Huffington Post co-founder will bring a dose of emotional intelligence

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Uber just admitted it’s lacking in emotional intelligence. And so it’s seeking help from one of the most influential media mavens of the past decade.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, has been appointed to Uber’s board of directors, the ridesharing company announced this morning.

In a blog post announcing the appointment, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick admitted that his company has largely focused on succeeding through data, not necessarily storytelling. He hopes to turn over a new leaf in partnership with Huffington:

“From the start of our friendship it was obvious that she believes deeply in our mission: transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone,” wrote Kalanick. “[I]t’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.”

Huffington is the eighth member to join Uber’s board of directors. The full list of members (and board observers) is here:

Board Members

  • Garrett Camp, co-founder and chairman of the board at Uber
  • Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber
  • Ryan Graves, SVP Global Operations at Uber
  • Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark
  • David Plouffe, former Obama advisor
  • David Bonderman, founding partner of TPG Capital
  • David Drummond, Google's SVP of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
  • Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post

Board Observers

  • Matt Cohler, General Partner at Benchmark
  • Shervin Pishevar, entrepreneur and angel investor

I compiled this list through my own research and reached out to Uber to confirm it's complete. (Haven't heard back yet.)

Though she started out as an author and conservative commentator, Huffington’s largest claim to fame is her namesake: The Huffington Post. Founded in 2005, the massive online news site sold to AOL in 2011 for $315 million. (For those with an interest in the ever-consolidating world of mass media and communications, Verizon purchased AOL last June for $4.4 billion.)

Earlier this month, Huffington and Kalanick co-wrote a blog post discussing the real dangers of "drowsy driving." As part of the campaign, Huffington toured college campuses across the U.S. to share how driving while sleepy can be as deadly as driving while drunk. The underlying message, of course, was that we need to take more Ubers instead of risking a drive while intoxicated (either with alcohol or lack of sleep).

With Huffington’s official appointment to the Uber board, it’s likely we’ll see more of these “emotional” campaigns that appeal to our heart and health. As Kalanick suggests, it will be a novel approach for a company that has largely been committed to hammering us over the head with all the proof points that make Uber better than a taxi (or Lyft, for that matter).

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Uber is a ridesharing service headquartered in San Francisco, United States, which operates in multiple international cities. The company uses a smartphone application to arrange rides between riders and drivers.