Amazon's PR and policy chief Jay Carney leaves to join Airbnb

Amazon’s PR and policy chief Jay Carney leaves to join Airbnb

Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Corporate Affairs at Amazon James Carney speaks with EU officials on February 1, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse | Corbis News | Getty Images

Airbnb has tapped Jay Carney, Amazon’s top spokesperson, to serve as its new head of policy and communications.

Carney will start at Airbnb in September, and will report to CEO Brian Chesky, the company said on Friday. He’ll be based in Washington, D.C.

Carney joined Amazon in 2015 after serving as White House press secretary under President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2014. Before that, he spent 20 years as a political journalist with Time Magazine.

As Amazon’s public policy and communications chief, Carney quickly gained a prominence within the company. He was a part of Jeff Bezos‘ elite S-team and remained there when Andy Jassy took over as CEO last year. One of Carney’s primary jobs was to help steer Amazon’s relationships with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

For Jassy, the move marks the latest high-profile exit at a time when the company faces a host of challenges, from soaring inflation and internal labor strife to regulatory fights in the U.S. and Europe. In June, 23-year Amazon veteran Dave Clark resigned as retail chief. And two prominent Black leaders — operations executive Dave Bozeman and Alicia Boler-Davis, senior vice president of global customer fulfillment — also announced their departures in June.

Carney oversaw Amazon’s large public relations staff, which often meant taking the lead on the company’s response to external scrutiny, notably during the Trump administration, which was a frequent critic of Amazon. He played a central role in the company’s ill-fated negotiations for a second corporate headquarters in Long Island City.

“Jay has worked at the highest levels of both government and technology, serving as a strategic counselor to the President, and at one of the largest tech companies in the world,” Chesky said in a statement. “When you combine that with the two decades he spent on the ground as a journalist, he brings a deep understanding of the needs of multiple stakeholders.”

In a memo to Amazon staff obtained by CNBC, Carney said his time at Amazon “exceeded my expectations,” and noted that the teams he ran are in “very good hands.”

“Together all of you will continue to make Amazon a company that does big, positive things for its customers, its employees and its communities around the world,” Carney wrote.

CNBC also viewed a memo that Jassy sent to employees announcing Carney’s departure. In the note, he told staff that the company will “begin a search immediately” for Carney’s replacement.

Here’s Jassy’s note:

I wanted to let you know that Jay Carney, who has run Global Corporate Affairs the last seven years, has decided to leave Amazon at the end of August to pursue other opportunities.

Since joining the company in 2015, Jay has scaled and led the Public Policy and Public Relations teams across all of our businesses and geographies with the overarching goal of ensuring that policymakers, reporters and customers are all accurately informed about Amazon’s contributions to economic growth, job creation, innovation and sustainability – as well as our unmatched focus on customers. Over the years, Jay frequently represented Amazon in meetings with heads of state and government and other senior leaders around the world. He also launched and oversaw Amazon in the Community, the first company-wide organization dedicated to community engagement and philanthropy. Jay came to Amazon after serving 5 ½ years in the Obama White House; and before that, worked as a journalist for more than two decades. Please join me in thanking Jay for his many significant accomplishments on behalf of Amazon’s customers and employees, for helping us build a strong set of capabilities in Public Policy and PR, and in wishing him well in his future endeavors.

We will begin a search immediately for Jay’s replacement. In the interim, Brian Huseman, Susan Pointer, and Michael Punke will report to David Zapolsky, and Drew Herdener will report to me.

Andy

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