Uber Appoints Pepsi’s Tony West as New Chief Legal Officer

On Friday, Uber Technologies Inc said that it hired a new chief legal officer to lead the company through its many legal difficulties, filling one of the critical vacancies in the company’s leadership.

Next month, Tony West is set to join Uber from PepsiCo Inc, where, as general counsel, he managed a team of lawyers across over 200 countries. He was also a former senior official and federal prosecutor in the United States Department of Justice under Barack Obama, the former President.

At Uber, West will battle with a series of criminal probes and a lawsuit against Uber from Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, one of the biggest legal disputes playing out in Silicon Valley.

“Tony is exactly what Uber needs now,” wrote Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi in an email to staff.

West is the first notable hire for Khosrowshahi, who was hired by the Uber board in August after Travis Kalanick, the former CEO, was urged by investors to step down following a number of company controversies.

Uber’s top legal job was formerly held by Salle Yoo. However, she is leaving the company in the coming weeks. Last month, Yoo said that she would leave Uber once a new general counsel was hired.

Many senior jobs of Uber jobs remain vacant, including its chief financial officer. However, the general counsel role was among the most critical position of Uber to fill. The company experiences a long list of legal tangles, including a class-action lawsuit from drivers; a lawsuit from Waymo that claims trade-secrets theft; and a series of federal investigations that span probable bribery of foreign officials in Asian countries and evasion of regulators with the use of software.

Earlier this week, three Latina software engineers accused Uber in San Francisco, claiming discrimination based on their race and gender.

During his tenure at Pepsi which lasted for three years, West was also one of the leading advocates for diversity of the company, said Khosrowshahi.

While in government, West assisted the Justice Department to secure an almost $17 billion settlement with Bank of America regarding toxic mortgage securities. He also played an important part in the decision by the Obama administration in 2011 to discontinue defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

West also has family links to the government. He is married to a former senior adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Maya Harris, and California Senator Kamala Harris is his sister-in-law.

In a statement, Pepsi said that it had replaced West with the company’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel, Dave Yawman.