Andrew Noyes must be a glutton for punishment. The PR pro does not shy away from representing controversial companies and figures. After one under the thumb of Uber’s tempestuous Travis Kalanick, he has just announced his new role as VP of communications for the polemic Sean Parker, in his new startup endeavor Brigade.
Since Brigade is still in stealth, there’s not much information out there on it, aside from the fact that it aims to fix democracy by giving a voice to the voter. Oh, and it’s helmed by Sean Parker. You’d think Noyes would want to catch a break working for a (almost) universally beloved company like Sriracha or something, but apparently not.
He served as Uber’s head of comms for the last year of the company’s history, through the tragedy of Sophia Liu’s death, the initial flood of critical investigations into Uber’s background check practices and insurance policies, and the regulatory controversies in states across the nation. It was a significant period for Uber, that tenuous time transitioning from the little startup that could to the hefty company with far more to lose.
Uber’s publicity practice evolved significantly over that time. Initially, the company party line was to deny any and all responsibility for accidents and conflicts that occurred during Uber rides since the company saw itself as just a “platform.” Towards the end of Noyes’ work there, Uber started practicing a much more professional policy of apologizing when such incidents occurred and working with press to get them information.
On the whole, reporters covering tech have described Noyes to me as “one of the best” at what he does. I’ve had mixed experiences working with Noyes — he’d likely say the same of me — but his pedigree is certainly stellar, with experience working in Facebook’s comms department before Uber, teaching mass communications at American University, and working as a reporter at the National Journal. He has extensive experience with the D.C. scene and is a smart choice for managing Parker’s political publicity relationships.
Those paying attention to the ridesharing space were shocked when Noyes left Uber with no explanation. Rumors have been circling that he was fired. Uber and Noyes have both kept mum. Noyes’ term at Uber was far shorter than his stint at Facebook — a mere year with the transportation platform compared to almost four years at the social network.
Serving on Uber’s PR team might be one of the more difficult jobs in tech — after I assume the life of the executive assistant of Larry Ellison — so it’s entirely possible Noyes left of his own accord. Neither he nor Uber returned requests for comment (they were contacted ~17 hours prior to publishing).
Noyes has kept his head down until this week’s announcement that he would be joining Brigade. His arrival coincided with the announcement of Brigade’s new leadership team. Parker is stepping down from his interim CEO role, although remaining the chairman, and Matt Mahan, who formerly ran Sean Parker’s other civic startup Causes, will be stepping in as the new CEO.
Hopefully for Noyes’ sake, Brigade will have far less bumpy of a ride than Uber’s past year.