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Vice President Harris’ Brother-in-Law Joins Top-Paid Uber Execs

March 16, 2021, 10:01 AM

Uber Technologies Inc. made its top lawyer, D. Anthony “Tony” West, who is the brother-in-law of Vice President Kamala Harris, one of the San Francisco-based company’s six highest-paid executives in 2020.

West received nearly $12.3 million in total compensation, including nearly $10.9 million in stock awards, according to an annual proxy statement. Uber also paid him more than $1.4 million in cash.

The company disclosed West’s pay package for 2020 because it was the first year in which he was a named executive officer, Uber spokeswoman Lois van der Laan told Bloomberg Law. West’s compensation wasn’t listed in Uber’s proxy for 2019.

West, whose title at Uber is chief legal officer and corporate secretary, was hired from PepsiCo Inc. in 2017 to replace former Uber legal chief Salle Yoo. West, a former Morrison & Foerster partner, spent nearly six years in the Obama administration’s Justice Department, where he rose to the level of associate attorney general before taking the top legal job at PepsiCo in 2014.

West and Harris, the sister of West’s wife, Stanford Law School graduate and public policy adviser Maya Harris, have occasionally been on opposite sides of legal and regulatory issues affecting Uber at the state and federal level.

Bloomberg data shows that West owns more than $10.5 million in Uber stock. Within the past year he’s sold off nearly $4 million in company stock, per securities filings.

Uber’s proxy states that it also paid between $120,000 and $200,000 last year to West’s stepdaughter, Harvard Law School graduate Meenakshi “Meena” Harris.

Meena Harris, who Uber said didn’t directly report to any of the company’s named executive officers, had served as its head of strategy and leadership since 2017.

She hit the campaign trail after leaving Uber in June 2020. Meena Harris, profiled by the New York Times in January as she seeks to build out her “Phenomenal Woman” brand, has, like her stepfather, been outspoken on diversity and inclusion issues and other matters affecting the technology sector.

They’ve also disagreed.

In November, Meena Harris tweeted that she was against Proposition 22, a California ballot measure passed that month that allowed Uber drivers and other gig economy workers to be classified as independent contractors.

Uber, which has turned to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to handle dozens of lawsuits filed by drivers in California, was a major backer of Proposition 22 and is leading a push to preserve a Labor Department rule on employee classification.

Changing Times

Benjamin Crump, a Florida-based civil rights lawyer who represented the family of George Floyd last week on a $27 million settlement, floated West’s name in November as a potential U.S. Attorney General candidate. Maya Harris also advocated on her husband’s behalf that he get the role, according to Politico.

West was one of the Biden-Harris campaign’s top bundlers, generating over $100,000 in donations. Uber ultimately held onto its legal chief as Merrick Garland was confirmed last week as U.S. Attorney General after being nominated in January.

In September, West joined the board of Roman Health Ventures Inc., a privately held telehealth startup valued at $1.5 billion last year after it raised $200 million in financing. At Uber, West helms a legal group at a company that went public in 2019 and since then has been busy bolting on new businesses.

Uber agreed in February to buy alcohol delivery startup Drizly Inc. for $1.1 billion, a move that came on the heels of Uber’s $2.7 billion acquisition of meal delivery service Postmates Inc. The latter deal came after Uber ended takeover talks with food delivery company Grubhub Inc., which sold itself to another suitor.

In March, Uber spun out a robotics delivery unit it picked up as part of its Postmates purchase, which it completed in December. That same month, Uber unloaded its former self-driving vehicle unit, although it retained a 26% stake in the business.

Those transactions have brought some new lawyers into its in-house orbit, such as former Postmates senior counsel for privacy and data security Tanya Richardson, who now holds a similar role at Uber. O’Melveny & Myers litigation counsel Alexander Larro joined Uber in November as counsel for its western region.

Uber’s legal team saw at least 16 roles be eliminated last May after the company announced it would reduce its workforce by at least 25% as a result of financial pressures stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month Uber promoted two of West’s top lieutenants, deputy general counsel Tammy Albarrán and associate general counsel Keir Gumbs, to chief deputy general counsel and deputy general counsel, respectively, said van der Laan, the company spokeswoman. Gumbs is also Uber’s deputy corporate secretary.

Gumbs and Albarrán joined Uber in 2018 after serving as partners at Covington & Burling, which handled a high-profile sexual harassment probe for the company that year. Chief trust and security officer Matthew Olsen and chief compliance and ethics officer Scott Schools, a pair of lawyers also hired by Uber in 2018, comprise the rest of West’s senior leadership team, van der Laan said.

Olsen, a former general counsel of the National Security Agency, prior to joining Uber advised the company on a hacking investigation that resulted in a $148 million settlement in 2018. Schools is a former Justice Department official.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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