Uber has hired top Amazon voice exec to head product as Daniel Graf departs

In another high-profile executive departure at Uber, product head Daniel Graf is leaving the company, according to sources. His replacement is Amazon’s top voice shopping VP, Assaf Ronen.

It is not clear where Graf, who had previously held top product jobs at Google (good) and Twitter (not as good), will be going.

[UPDATE: Uber confirmed the hiring of Ronen and departure of Graf, who will remain as an advisor for a time. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also sent a memo to staff (see below)]

Uber declined to comment and Graf did not return a message requesting comment.

Ronen is a big get, having done stints at Microsoft and Amazon. At the e-commerce giant, he was VP of voice and natural user interface shopping — no, the Israeli entrepreneur was not responsible for the evil Alexa laugh — a big area of growth there.

The move is another sign that Khosrowshahi, who replaced the ousted Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO, is consolidating his management team. He has hired a new COO and top legal officer, for example, as many from the Kalanick era depart. Culture headFrances Frei left recently, although she will remain an Uber advisor.

Graf came to Uber in late 2017, as head of Marketplace Dynamics, managing the algorithms that matched drivers with riders and set prices and reported to then VP of product Ed Baker. Graf later replaced Baker when he left the company in March 2017

In an interview with TechCrunch last fall, Graf seemed stoked about the new regime: “If I look where we are now, with Dara on board, with our product pipelines, with what we’ve shipped over the last few months with our business numbers, if I look at all this as a holistic picture, I couldn’t feel better about the company.”

Graf is not the only top product executive to leave in this new era of Uber. As
first reported,

Graf’s direct report and head of driver product Aaron Schildkrout left the company in December 2017 — a decision, he told staff in an internal memo, was long in the offing.

Here is Khosrowshahi’s memo to Uber staff. (I am the leaked-to reporter mentioned, although I work hard for my money, Dara, so props please!)

Team Uber:

I wanted to let you know about some changes in the Uber Product world. After nearly 2.5 years at Uber, Daniel
has decided to leave. This was not an easy or quick decision. In true Swiss fashion, Daniel wanted to ensure that 2018 planning and perf were done, the team was stable and I had a plan for leadership of the team going forward.

We had hoped to announce this in a few weeks, but unfortunately it leaked to a journalist and we wanted to let you know first.

Fortunately, we’ve got some good news, too: Assaf Ronen
will be joining Uber as SVP and Head of Product beginning later this month. Assaf currently leads Alexa voice shopping for Amazon, and previously spent many years at Microsoft running a number of consumer and enterprise products including Skype.

I am so grateful to Daniel for all he has achieved. He is a brilliant product strategist, an enthusiastic evangelist for Uber’s products (while at the same time always taking a measure of our competition), he is never satisfied with “good enough,” a fantastic team builder, and is incredibly hard-working. Daniel has agreed to stay on as an advisor to the company and help get Assaf up to speed.

As I’ve said, we’re going to lean in on product this year — it’s the core of our service and will be key to our continued success in the future. Thanks to Daniel for helping lay an incredible foundation, and welcome to Assaf as he gets started soon!



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