Airbnb announced on Thursday that it had hired Chris Lehane, a former advisor to President Clinton, as its new head of global policy and public affairs.
Lehane is the latest in a string of former White House advisors who have been hired by tech companies to help navigate political battles on their behalf. Last August, Uber hired former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe as senior vice president of policy and strategy (he was recently replaced). In February, Amazon hired President Obama’s former press secretary, Jay Carney, as its senior vice president for global corporate affairs.
Airbnb’s general counsel, Belinda Johnson, said in a blog post that Lehane will “be directing our work with policymakers and our efforts to educate more people, organizations and stakeholders about Airbnb and the right to share your home,” in addition to “help[ing] organize our hosts and ensure their voices are heard loud and clear by policymakers.”
When tech companies impact industries beyond “tech” and clash with existing interests and regulations in those industries–in Airbnb’s case, hotel taxes, laws, and unions–they inevitably need to play politics. With no shortage of cash, that well-known companies like Airbnb have hired big political names to do so is not surprising.