Google has quietly amassed a massive presence in Washington, DC recently passing telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon in terms of their annual spending on lobbying. But today Recode reported that Rachel Whetstone, the veteran head of Google’s public policy and communications unit, is moving to Uber, becoming its new SVP of policy and communications.
Google and Uber increasingly compete
It's just another sign of Uber's growing power. Despite being a private company, it has achieved a whopping $50 billion valuation and is reportedly bidding against much larger public companies like Facebook, Baidu, and BMW in the auction for Nokia's Here mapping service. As Uber's ambitions have grown to include self-driving cars and mapping technology, its relationship with Google, a partner and investor through its venture arm, is looking increasingly strained.
Whetstone is replacing another big name, former Obama advisor David Plouffe, who joined Uber last year. Plouffe will become a chief advisor and board member. Uber has continued to find itself mired in conflict with regulators and courting controversy in the press. The ride-sharing giant is hoping that Whetstone, who worked on Google's issues with the EU and FTC here in the US, will be able to help it navigate the tricky road ahead. And with Uber, she'll have plenty of help.