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Amazon head of public affairs and policy Jay Carney leaves to join Airbnb

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Amazon SVP Global Corporate Affairs James Carney speaks with EU officials February 1, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monas | Corbis News | Getty Images

Airbnb has named Jay Carney, chief spokesperson for Amazon, as its new head of policy and communications.

Carney will join Airbnb in September and will report to CEO Brian Chesky, the company said on Friday. It will be based in Washington, DC.

Carney joined Amazon in 2015 after serving as White House press secretary under President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a political journalist for Time magazine for 20 years.

As Amazon’s head of public policy and communications, Carney quickly rose to prominence within the company. He was part of Jeff Bezos’ elite S-team and stayed there when Andy Jassi took over as CEO last year. One of Carney’s primary responsibilities was to help build Amazon’s relationship with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

For Jassy, ​​the move marks the latest high-profile departure at a time when the company is facing a host of challenges, from soaring inflation and internal labor disputes to regulatory disputes in the US and Europe. In June, 23-year Amazon veteran Dave Clark stepped down as chief retail officer. Two prominent black leaders — chief executive Dave Bozeman and Alicia Boler-Davies, senior vice president of global customer service — also announced their departures in June.

Carney ran Amazon’s large public relations staff, which often meant he had to take charge of the company’s response to outside scrutiny, especially during the Trump administration, which was often critical of Amazon. He played a central role in the company’s ill-fated negotiations for a second headquarters in Long Island City.

“Jay has worked at the highest levels in both government and technology, serving as a strategic adviser to the president as well as one of the largest technology companies in the world,” Chesky said in a statement. “When combined with the two decades he has spent on the ground as a journalist, he provides a deep understanding of the needs of multiple stakeholders.”

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

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

CNBC also reviewed a memo Jassie sent to employees announcing Carney’s departure. In the memo, he told staff that the company would “immediately begin searching” for Carney’s replacement.

Here is Yassy’s note:

I wanted to let you know that Jay Carney, who has led global corporate affairs for the past seven years, decided to leave Amazon at the end of August to pursue other opportunities.

Since joining the company in 2015, Jay has expanded and led public policy and public relations teams across all of our companies and regions, with the primary goal of ensuring policymakers, journalists, and customers are accurately informed about Amazon’s contribution to economic growth, employment. creation, innovation and sustainability, and our unrivaled customer focus. Over the years, Jay has often represented Amazon in meetings with heads of state and government and other top leaders around the world. He also launched and led Amazon in the Community, the first company-wide community engagement and philanthropy organization. Jay came to Amazon after working 5.5 years in the Obama White House; and before that he worked as a journalist for more than two decades. Please join me in thanking Jay for his many significant accomplishments on behalf of Amazon customers and employees, helping to build a powerful set of public policy and public relations capabilities, and wishing him well in his future endeavours.

We’ll start searching for Jay’s replacement immediately. In the meantime, Brian Hasman, Susan Poynter and Michael Pahnke will report to David Zapolsky and Drew Herdener will report to me.

Andy

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