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Amazon Loses Former White House Spokesman Jay Carney to Airbnb

Jay Carney, Amazon’s SVP of Global Corporate Affairs and former White House press secretary under President Obama, has decamped from the e-commerce titan to take the top policy and communications role at Airbnb.

Jay Carney waves at the end of his last White House briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House June 18, 2014 in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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3 minute read

Jay Carney, Amazon’s SVP of Global Corporate Affairs and former White House press secretary under President Obama, has decamped from the e-commerce titan to take the top policy and communications role at Airbnb.

Carney fills the shoes of Chris Lehane, who left Airbnb in earlier this year to join the leadership team of a crypto and Web3-focused venture capital firm led by a16z veteran Katie Hahn.

His transition from Amazon to Airbnb will occur in September, positioning him directly beneath CEO Brian Chesky in the hospitality platform’s org chart.

Airbnb

Carney’s specific responsibilities haven’t been publicly laid out, but he will likely pick up where Lehane left off, collaborating with municipal and national governments to develop laws that are friendly to Airbnb. In a press release, the company said Carney will ensure the travel platform strengthens the communities in which it operates.

Carney brings a mountain of experience leading Amazon’s policy team for the past seven years. However, one lesser-known part of his job was his oversight of Amazon’s community investments, which included disaster responses and humanitarian relief efforts. Carny’s prior experience suggests that he could absorb some of the duties of outgoing Airbnb co-founder Joe Gabbia, who was responsible for many of the company’s humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, including its non-profit arm Airbnb.org.

In the company’s announcement, Chesky highlighted Carney’s experience at the highest levels of tech and politics: “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.”

The loss of Carney’s political insights comes at a tough time for Amazon, which is facing growing scrutiny from antitrust regulators. Earlier this month, reports emerged that Amazon has considered cutting its private label lines to ward off regulators after it allegedly used internal sales information to develop Amazon-branded alternatives of popular products and favored the products in its search results. The online shopping hub is also looking to avoid legal troubles over its reportedly heavy-handed response to the growing unionization movement among its warehouse workers.

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