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Daniel Graf, Former Product Honcho for Twitter and Google Maps, Joins Uber

The exec who brought Google Maps to the iPhone joins the Uber-plex.


Intent on building dominant transportation software, Uber has steadily been plundering marquee talent from Google. Add another one: Daniel Graf, the former product chief at Twitter and the man credited for bringing Google Maps to the iPhone.

At Uber, Graf will fill a new role as head of Marketplace Dynamics, the ride-hailing startup’s unit for its increasingly complex algorithms matching drivers with riders and setting prices. He will report to Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer.

“I’m pumped that Daniel is joining the Uber team,” Holden said in a statement. “Our two-sided marketplace is a treasure trove of innovation opportunity with huge impact on the Uber rider and driver experience. Daniel is exactly the right leader to turn the vision here into reality.”

The hire is a coup for Uber, largely because of Graf’s reputation as a product engineer. He was the senior director for the Google mapping products from 2012 to 2014, managing its local listings offering as well as the rollout of Maps for iOS.

Daniel Graf
Daniel Graf

His next position did not go as swimmingly. Graf left Google in April of last year for the VP of product role at Twitter, but was demoted in October amid some frantic exec shuffling under then CEO Dick Costolo. Graf left two months later.

Earlier this fall, he began chatting with companies and investors about where to head next. He landed on Uber since it offers “impactful projects that make a difference in the world,” Graf wrote in a Facebook post that he will share this morning.

His incoming role is critical for the startup. Uber’s ability to execute on these matching algorithms, like its pooling feature, will determine how well it can manage costs and uphold its recent positioning as an urban transportation services force. Graf’s division is also running up against similar features from rival Lyft, its cadre of global allies and, maybe down the road, his old company.

He’ll join some familiar faces. In June, Uber hired Google VP Brian McClendon, the primary exec behind the birth of Google Maps, to lead its own mapping team. Last week, Uber poached Manik Gupta, a Google Maps director and one of McClendon’s deputies at the search giant.

“Exciting times!” writes Graf.

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