By Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg News
Uber Technologies Inc. appointed Tony West as chief legal officer, the first major hire for the new chief executive officer since taking over last month.
West, the outgoing general counsel at PepsiCo Inc. and a former senior official at the U.S. Justice Department, will join the ride-hailing company next month as it faces at least five federal criminal probes and dozens of lawsuits, including a major trade secrets fight with Alphabet Inc.
“Tony is exactly what Uber needs now,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an email to staff seen by Bloomberg. “At Pepsi, he has emphasized diversity on his team and across the company. But perhaps most importantly, Pepsi has been named one of the world’s most ethical companies 10 years in a row. Under Tony’s leadership, I’m confident that we will one day join this list.”
West will replace Salle Yoo, Uber’s top lawyer since 2012.
Yoo’s team became plagued by a string of U.S. inquiries into Uber’s business practices. Bloomberg first reported this month on two additional criminal probes, which examine pricing practices and the company’s role in the alleged theft of corporate information from Alphabet’s Waymo.
Before joining Pepsi in 2014, West oversaw investigations into consumer and corporate fraud as U.S. associate attorney general. He reported to former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Earlier this year, Holder led a company-commissioned investigation into corporate culture and employee misconduct at Uber. Ultimately, more than 20 employees were fired for sexual harassment and other human-resources violations.
Addressing cultural problems, including a lawsuit that alleges Uber underpaid women and minorities, is among the many challenges West will face. City, state and federal governments around the world are reassessing their relationships with Uber.
For example, London took steps toward banning the service, a move Uber is appealing.
PepsiCo said Friday that it would promote Dave Yawman to executive vice president of government affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary, filling West’s role. “Over the last three years, Tony has greatly advanced our commitment to being one of the world’s most ethical companies, strengthened our public policy and government affairs function, and demonstrated an unshakeable commitment to diversity,” Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi said in a statement.