Former head of public policy for Uber Corey Owens — who was poached from Facebook by the ride-hailing service in 2013 — is now working for Chinese drone giant DJI.
Owens left Uber during its mid-December policy and comms staff shake-up; DJI comms director Adam Najberg told Re/code that Owens began working at DJI “in the last few weeks.” According to Owens’s LinkedIn profile, his start date as Head of North America Public Policy was in January. He was named one of Forbes.com’s “30 under 30” in 2014 for his work at Uber.
In the United States, DJI hasn’t been as visible in political battles with regulators, where a lot of the heavy lifting over drones has been done by companies like Amazon and Google. But it makes a lot of sense that DJI would invest in Washington, as other major Chinese tech companies, such as Huawei, have been effectively blacklisted from Congress because of their close ties to the Chinese government.
DJI is among China’s most valuable startups, and it has attracted a lot of attention from prominent Americans. The company raised $75 million at an $8 billion valuation last year from Accel Partners, and was reportedly in talks to raise additional cash at a $10 billion valuation. DJI chose to take money from Accel because the firm agreed to work with DJI to set up a separate VC fund to invest in startups that develop on DJI’s software developer kit. Though it didn’t take cash from Accel or DJI, the “Waze for drones” startup Hivemapper is a good of example of such a startup.
The DJI Phantom drone is the closest thing drone makers and companies that work with drones have to an industry standard; federal filings from last year show that 47 percent of the U.S. companies (or 61 of 129 companies) that “received regulatory approval to use unmanned aircraft are using DJI drones.” In January, Ford announced that it had struck a deal with DJI to work on car-to-drone integrations for the Detroit automaker’s fleet.
Corey Owens did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.