Feb 1, 2024 - Business

Communicator Spotlight: Matt Kallman, Uber's vice president of global communications

Photo Illustration of Matt Kailman with a repeating Uber logo

Photo Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios. Photo: Uber

As vice president of global communications at Uber, Matt Kallman is responsible for shaping how the world perceives the ride-sharing and delivery platform, which has over 6.5 million drivers and couriers transporting people and goods across 75 countries.

🗣What he's saying: "Communications has always been really important to Uber. It's a verb company, as they say, so it's always been of interest to the world."

  • "Our team is seen as advisors who can provide leadership with a holistic view of what consumers and employees want and what policymakers, customers, drivers and couriers are saying about us."

📍How he got here: Kallman has always worked at the intersection of communication and policy. He previously held roles at the U.S. Department of Energy and Google before joining Uber 9 years ago.

🏗How it's structured: Kallman reports to Jill Hazelbaker, senior vice president of marketing & public affairs, and oversees a global team of more than 100 communicators responsible for social media, internal and external communications.

📈Trendspot: Brands are directly engaging with audiences across digital platforms with creative content.

  • For example, Kallman's team recently launched the Earning with Uber YouTube channel to reach drivers and couriers.
  • "They tend to spend a lot of time on YouTube — so we're meeting them there and we're seeing great traction by highlighting our drivers and the folks inside of Uber who work on the driver team."

🚙 Zoom in: Kallman and other members of the Uber leadership team often drive and deliver to better understand the driver experience.

  • "We've not only improved the app itself rapidly, but it's also helped me reframe how we engage with drivers — which is different than how we communicate to the press or policymakers."

👀Who he's watching: Stripe.

  • "As a developer-focused company, they were really ahead of the curve in putting their executives and their announcements in seemingly niche but quite resonant places that would reach their key audiences."

💡CEOs should know that "it's about substance, not spin," says Kallman.

  • "It's our job to protect and defend the company and make our arguments — but at the end of the day, we have to back it up. Especially these days when there's heightened scrutiny and just less room for BS, pardon my French, both internally and externally."

🧗🏻Destress routine includes rock climbing or binging "The Great British Bake Off."

🗞News diet consists of Techmeme, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Financial Times.

🧠 Best advice comes from Rachel Whetstone, former head of comms for Uber and current CCO at Netflix: "Repetition never spoils the prayer."

  • "The art of really good comms is finding new ways to say the same thing over and over again. To break through, it really does take repetition."
  • Another favorite comes from Hazelbaker: "Hunt where the duck are," which means meet audiences where they are, on their terms.

Subscribe to Axios Communicators.

Go deeper