Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Lobbyist’s Version of “I Know a Guy”

1. In December 2012, Uber had an urgent problem: its drivers in Milan were being menaced by angry cabbies wielding tire irons. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick consulted with investor Shervin Pishevar, the politically connected venture capitalist. Pishevar happened to know that Jim Messina, the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s reelection, was celebrating the president’s victory in Italy. As Messina recalls: “I was getting engaged and drinking my ass off.” Still, he took Pishevar’s call at 2 a.m. in Italy, then called U.S. Ambassador David Thorne, who called Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia. City police began looking into the disputes.

2. For Beepi, which lets Californians buy and sell used cars online, Messina is navigating a maze of laws and introducing the company to regulators. He helped score a 48-hour’s-notice meeting with California’s secretary of transportation “that otherwise would have taken six months to set up,” says Beepi CEO Alejandro Resnik. “We consider him our silver bullet.”

The Many Hats of Jim Messina