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(Associated Press)

Uber Hires Target Executive as President of Ride-Sharing

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Uber Technologies Inc has plucked a top executive from retail giant Target to help lead the growing ride services company and reshape its image.

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Uber said on Tuesday it hired Jeff Jones, chief marketing officer for Target Corp, to oversee the bulk its global operations. Jones will be president of ride-sharing at Uber, running local Uber services in every city, as well as marketing efforts and customer support.

Target said Jones would leave his current post on Sept. 9.

The hire marks a move by Uber, which has become the dominant on-demand ride service, to bolster its reputation and brand. The company has since 2009 expanded to more than 450 cities, often by steamrolling regulators and launching campaigns against lawmakers until local officials relented.

Jones joined Target in 2012 to help rejuvenate the retailer's brand and is credited with creating more innovative digital ad campaigns. Prior to that, he led marketing for Gap Inc and worked for Coca-Cola and advertising firm McKinney.

Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick said in a blog post that he and Jones met in February and "within minutes we were debating how Uber could improve its reputation." (http://ubr.to/2cclIj5)

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Kalanick said he wants to align Uber's marketing functions more closely with individual city operations and put more focus on customer service. Uber has local offices in most of the regions where it operates.

Uber's global operations spans dozens of countries and about 1.5 million drivers. The company has completed more than 2 billion rides and raised more than $13 billion. It is valued in the private market at $68 billion.

Jones' hire marks a change for Ryan Graves, who has been at Uber since 2010 and ran the company's operations and global expansion. Graves will give up some of those responsibilities but will continue to work on Uber's delivery businesses, including UberEats and UberRush, as well as other projects, Kalanick said.

The addition of Jones comes a day after Uber announced the departure of Alphabet executive David Drummond from its board of directors. Drummond had been on the board since 2013, after Alphabet's venture capital arm GV invested about $250 million in Uber. (Reporting by Heather Somerville in San Francisco and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Dan Grebler)