James Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of Worldwide Corporate Affairs, speaks to EU officials in Brussels, Belgium, February 1, 2018.
Thierry Monasse | Corbis News | Getty Images
Airbnb has tapped Jay Carney, Amazon’s chief spokesman, 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. He 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. Before that, he was a political journalist at Time Magazine for 20 years.
As head of public relations and communications at Amazon, Carney quickly rose to prominence within the company. He was part of Jeff Bezos’ elite S team and stayed there when Andy Jassy took over as CEO last year. One of Carney’s primary responsibilities was directing Amazon’s relationships with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
For Jassy, the move marks its latest high-profile exit at a time when the company faces a multitude of challenges, from rising inflation and internal labor disputes to regulatory battles in the US and Europe. In June, 23-year-old Amazon veteran Dave Clark resigned as chief retail officer. And two prominent black leaders – operations manager Dave Bozeman and senior vice president of global customer fulfillment Alicia Boler-Davis – also announced their departures in June.
Carney oversaw Amazon’s large public relations team, which often meant taking the lead in the company’s response to external scrutiny, particularly during the Trump administration, which Amazon was frequently critical of. 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 government and technology, as a strategic advisor to the President and at one of the largest technology companies in the world,” Chesky said in a statement. “When you combine that with the two decades he’s spent on the ground as a journalist, he brings 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 all continue to make Amazon a company that does great, positive things for its customers, its employees, and its communities around the world,” Carney wrote.
CNBC also looked at a memo Jassy sent to employees announcing Carney’s departure. In the note, he told employees the company would “immediately begin searching” for Carney’s replacement.
Here is Jassy’s note:
I wanted to let you know that Jay Carney, who has led Global Corporate Affairs for the past 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 our businesses and geographies, with the overarching goal of ensuring that policymakers, reporters and clients are all fully aware of the contribution of Amazon informed about economic growth and jobs are creation, innovation and sustainability – as well as our unmatched customer focus. Over the years, Jay has frequently represented Amazon at meetings with heads of state and government and other senior executives around the world. He also founded and led Amazon in the Community, the first company-wide organization dedicated to community engagement and philanthropy. Jay joined Amazon after working in the Obama White House for 5 1/2 years; 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 customers and employees, for helping us build strong public policy and PR skills, and all the best for his to wish for future endeavors.
We’re going to start looking for Jay’s replacement immediately. In the meantime, Brian Huseman, Susan Pointer and Michael Punke will report to David Zapolsky and Drew Herdener to me.
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