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Ex-Google Head of Comms Leaves Über

April 12, 2017

Remember Rachel Whetstone?  She was the Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Policy at Google until 2015 when she took a comparable job at Über, replacing the former manager for President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, David Plouffe.  While at Google she also coined the “crying baby” gif for a now-forgotten post she wrote.

Another fun fact–in typical Google style, influence peddling begins at home.  Rachel Whetstone is married to Steve Hilton, a close advisor of the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

In other words, Rachel Whetstone was the brains behind Googles’ “torture the artists” campaign–and is a member of what Graham Greene might call the untorturable class.  Ms. Whetstone left the sanctum sanctorum of Google to join Über to torture the Teamsters, other taxi drivers and mount Über’s genius $10 million Austin ballot proposition disaster.  Because, you know, there’s torture and then there’s torture.

According to Recode:

Sources close to the car-hailing company said that the decision to leave was multi-faceted, including Whetstone’s lack of appetite for even more drama after running comms at Google for many years before her stint at Uber.

In an email to her staff, Whetstone referenced that drama, talking about “always-on jobs” that are exciting yet exhausting, too.

 There has been some recent tension between her and [Uber CEO Travis] Kalanick, with some investors blaming bad press for Uber’s woes (wrong!), although sources said that was expected given all the controversies at the company of late. That includes a massive investigation into allegations of pervasive sexism at the company, as well as a troublesome lawsuit initiated by Alphabet that alleges that the company stole self-driving car technology.

Well, there’s drama and then there’s drama.  At least she wasn’t held accountable for the bad press for Google’s rev share deals with nasty people.  And look at the bright side–no indictments yet.

Her replacement is another ex-Googler, Jill Hazelbecker.  Recode quotes an internal Uber email to staff from Mr. Kalanick with this bit about Ms. Hazelbecker:

Rachel is passing the reins over to her longtime right hand Jill Hazelbaker, our newly minted Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Communications. For those of you who haven’t met Jill, her background is in politics and she brings deep experience in policy, communications and tech.

MTP readers may recall Ms. Hazelbecker as the former campaign spokesperson for the New Jersey Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Tom Kean, Jr. as chronicled in the New York Times (see BlueJersey’s Troll Hunt):

A liberal blog, BlueJersey, says it has evidence that someone in the Kean campaign — possibly his spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker — has been posting deceptive comments anonymously on its site, using several aliases.

Ms. Hazelbaker flatly denied the accusation this afternoon: “They say I’ve posted on the Web site. I’ve never e-mailed them nor posted on the Web site.”

Juan Melli of BlueJersey says his site’s logs show that comments posted by at least two aliases, cleanupnj and usedtobeblue, share an Internet Protocol address — 70.90.20.85. — with the I.P. address listed in an e-mail message sent by Ms. Hazelbaker to a third party. An I.P. address is a unique number somewhat analagous to a phone number or street address, though I.P addresses can be shared under some circumstances.

Computers can be shared too. Asked if anyone in the Kean campaign had ever posted at BlueJersey or sent it an e-mail message, Ms. Hazelbaker said: “I don’t know.”

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