On Tuesday, TechCrunch confirmed that Bozoma Saint John, the former head of Apple Music’s consumer marketing division, had been snatched by Uber as their new Chief Brand Officer. The ride-hailing company hopes she will help them with their troubled public image.
Rumors about Uber’s latest hire started circulating last week, just days ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Coincidentally, Saint John rose to prominence at last year’s edition of the event, where she highlighted the reengineering efforts made to the music streaming platform.
While many outlets have praised the executive and jumped at her for exclusive interviews, others see her new career choice with skepticism. Uber has deep-running issues at its core that no amount of good PR can solve, but at least it is taking some steps in the right direction.
The media overhyped Saint John’s arrival to Uber
Bozoma Saint John is a passionate marketer with an eye for innovation. Nobody could doubt her capabilities after a decade at Pepsi and nearly three years at Apple, but it seems news outlets expect her to do a miracle with Uber.
First of all, Saint John has an extensive background in show business, mainly creating Pepsi’s music division and leading it for ten years to then be handpicked by Jimmy Iovine to work with him at Beats Music.
As part of Apple’s acquisition of the stylish headphone company, ‘Boz’ became the head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes. Her vision drove remarkable success to these platforms, and her appearance at WWDC 2016 put her in the spotlight.
However, it is precisely there where the challenge lies, in that Saint John is an entertainment advertising veteran but perhaps not the savior she is being touted to be for Uber.
What are the transportation company infrastructure problems?
In an interview with Business Insider last year, a close friend of the new CBO of Uber suggested she could be anything she wanted to be, even Apple’s next CEO.
It would help if Uber presented itself with a new face to the world after the multiple sexual harassment allegations, leadership scandals, questionable practices, legal battles with rival companies, and executive departures in recent months.
Regardless, there is the question of business stability under CEO Travis Kalanick, who has recently shied away from the spotlight after a tragic accident that took away his mother’s life and left his father severely injured.
There is also the issue of leadership across the board, where many positions have been left vacant after executives expressed fundamental disagreements with Uber philosophies and corporate culture. Most notably, there is still no COO to help Kalanick run the company.
What’s more, the ride-hailing giant might face steep challenges coming from its legal brawl with Waymo. Uber could be liable for hundreds of millions if it is found guilty of stealing its rival’s tech. It would also mean the engineers have to develop new tools from scratch or pay a lot of money for the license.