The exodus from Google to Uber shows no signs of stopping


Travis Kalanick

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith


A week after Google's former communications head cleaned house at Uber, Rachel Whetstone has already made a new hire: Niki Christoff.

Christoff joins Uber from Google, where she had spent eight years running the East Coast media team and supervising former Google CEO Eric Schmidt's press appearances. Christoff worked for Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and has worked as a litigator in DC.

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Christoff joins Uber as Director of Public Policy, Federal Affairs, and Communications right after Whetstone laid off more than a dozen employees on the communications and policy team, with several choosing to leave on their own.

Christoff is just one of a recent string of Google hires:


  • Rachel Whetstone came to Uber in May to be its Senior VP of Policy and Communications. Whetstone had been at Google since 2005, and before that, worked in British government.
  • Whetstone then hired Jill Hazelbaker in October. Hazelbaker had moved from Google to Snapchat for a a year before Whetstone lured her back to be VP of Communications and Policy. Like Christoff, she also has a background in politics having oversaw Google's European communication's and policy team. Hazelbaker was also the national communications director for the same McCain campaign.
  • Outside of communications, Manik Gupta worked on Google Maps for seven years, most recently as the director of product management. Gupta joined Uber as the director of its Maps product in November.
  • Gupta may have been recruited by Brian McClendon, who ran Google Maps for many years before joining Uber in July. McClendon is now the VP of Advanced Technologies.
  • Tom Fallows, a former founder of Google Express and current Uber exec, may have been the start of it all. Fallows joined in January as it Director of Global Expansion products after spending close to five years at Google. Fallows recently said on stage at a recent StrictlyVC event that one out of three people he works with at the $50-billion startup is a former Google colleague.

A quick LinkedIn search reveals more than 300 Xooglers now at Uber. Uber declined to comment on the story.

The concept of employees from legacy tech companies jumping ship to hot startups isn't new, but the number of high-profile leaks from Google to Uber is likely starting to hit some nerves. The move, especially of top policy heads, also signals a stronger political offensive from Uber. Silicon Valley is already attracting many former politicos to be the bridge between DC and the Valley.

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