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Uber Hires Amazon Vet Jeff Holden to Run Product

Holden led the team that created Amazon Prime, if that tells you anything.

The ride-hailing and swashbuckling startup Uber has hired Jeff Holden as its chief product officer, recruiting him away from a similar role at Groupon.

“It’s a notoriously difficult entrepreneurial challenge to create a thriving two-sided marketplace from scratch,” Holden said in a statement. “But to do it as quickly as Uber with such a magical experience, and to simultaneously have the strategic foresight and wherewithal to relentlessly start from the customer and work backward is another thing altogether.”

While Groupon’s reputation may not be sterling, this is a hiring coup for Uber, particularly given Holden’s history at Amazon — which is perhaps the company Uber would most like to emulate.

Uber was valued at $3.5 billion in a funding round last year, after which leaked documents showed the company looked to be on track for a $1 billion annual run rate.

Groupon had already disclosed that Holden was departing March 18. Holden joined Groupon in 2011 when it bought his Foursquare-esque startup Pelago.

Prior to that, Holden was a long-time Amazon executive who was close to Jeff Bezos even before the company started. He was hired shortly after Bezos’s two-year do-not-poach agreement expired at their previous employer, D.E. Shaw.

Holden was described in Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store” as a metaphorical planet Mercury of an Amazon executive — orbiting closest to Bezos’s sun — a fast talker and aggressive manager who led teams around supply chains, product discovery, the development of Amazon Prime and other projects in his eight and a half years at Amazon.

That list of products is quite topical to Uber — especially Amazon Prime. Though Uber’s core business is still helping people hail rides in cars, the company has long pointed to its ambitions around the larger topic of logistics. That is: not just moving people, but moving stuff around.

(Also, for what it’s worth, Bezos is an investor in Uber through his personal fund, Bezos Expeditions.)

Some of Uber’s other recent hires include CFO Brent Callinicos (formerly at Google), business head Emil Michael (formerly at Klout) and growth head Ed Baker (formerly at Facebook).

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