Uber Takes Chief Security Officer From Facebook David Ruiz, The Recorder
April 2, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO — Ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. has poached Facebook Inc. chief security officer Joe Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor and senior in-house counsel. Sullivan had joined the Menlo Park-based social-media giant in 2008 as an associate general counsel, but switched to the privacy and security role after roughly one year.
Sullivan, who could not be reached for comment, starts in late April, according to an Uber announcement Thursday. Sullivan will be working primarily on data security and safety. A blog post, written by both Sullivan and chief executive officer Travis Kalanick, emphasized the importance of trying to protect Uber users' data and their personal well-being.
"We are both in cyberspace and on city streets all at once; a bridge between bits and atoms," Kalanick wrote. Sullivan mirrored Kalanick's dual-world rhetoric, saying he was excited for the multifaceted task.
"I look forward to bringing the best practices that I've learned along the way to Uber and doing defining work in bridging the divide between the digital and physical worlds," Sullivan said.
By tackling both personal and cyber security, Sullivan is going to have a lot on his hands. Uber is currently facing a lawsuit that alleges an Uber driver raped a passenger in Delhi. Another lawsuit, filed jointly by Los Angeles and San Francisco district attorneys, claims that Uber doesn't live up to the "industry-setting" background checks it purports to use on new drivers. And in February, the company announced it had suffered a data breach that could have affected up to 50,000 drivers.
Sullivan said his decision to leave Facebook "wasn't easy," but he is excited about the opportunities at Uber.
"Joe's many contributions have made the Facebook community safer and more secure," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Before joining Facebook, Sullivan served as an associate general counsel at PayPal Inc. He worked previously with eBay Inc. as the company's senior director for the trust and safety department. A graduate from University of Miami School of Law, Sullivan trained as a federal prosecutor in the Northern District of California in the computer-hacking and intellectual property unit. He has extensive experience on cybercrime, cybersecurity and data privacy and protection.
Brad Bruner, legal recruiter for Mlegal, said the move makes sense for someone who is trying to always be at the intersection of new technology and security. He said Sullivan's previous companies—eBay, PayPal, Facebook—all represented exciting moments in technology and daily life: eBay and PayPal for online money transfers and financial activity, Facebook for personal information and privacy issues.
"Uber is leading the frontier for all sharing services," said Bruner, who does not personally know Sullivan. "To me, it looks like Sullivan enjoys being at the forefront. Ebay, PayPal, Facebook—those were all the Uber of the day back then."
In the company's blog, Kalanick said it is now Uber's responsibility to be a leader in the space and to set standards for consumer protection.
"It's no longer about traditional metrics for safe transportation or keeping our community's data private and secure, but about how we lead efforts to redefine and strengthen physical and data security in the location-based world," Kalanick said. "We see opportunities ahead not just in technology, through biometrics and driver monitoring, but in the potential for inspiring collaborations with city and state governments around the world."
Uber has managed to pick up a slew of high-profile hires, including former Lyft Inc. chief operating officer Travis VanderZanden and former Obama adviser David Plouffe last year.
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