‘I Work For Hollywood’: Bozoma Saint John Is leaving Uber For Endeavor
Bozoma Saint John, hired about a year ago from Apple to help repair Uber’s tarnished image of having a horrible workplace culture, is leaving to become chief marketing officer for Endeavor, a holding company for talent, marketing and literary agencies.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi credited Saint John with being part of Uber’s turnaround.
“Boz joined Uber at a time when the company was hurting — but her energy, optimism and creativity have been a key part of our ongoing turnaround,” Khosrowshahi said, according to CNBC. “Endeavor is lucky to have her.”
After a series of scandals rocked Uber under former CEO Travis Kalanick, Saint John was hired as chief brand officer to rebuild customer loyalty and repair worker morale at the ride-sharing company.
Uber fired 20 employees after an investigation on sexual harassment painted a picture of a company that built a workplace hostile to women.
Saint John embarked on high-profile roadshow of talks and panel discussion, charming — and challenging — audiences with her larger-than-life personality and big stage presence. She was considered the most visible woman in Silicon Valley.
Saint John will work as chief marketing officer at Endeavor’s portfolio companies, which include William Morris and IMG.
Why is she leaving Uber so soon?
“Nothing horrible or terrible happened,” Saint John told Megan Rose Dickey in a Tech Crunch interview. “I am very thankful for that because we’ve had enough of those stories. We don’t want any more of that.”
She wasn’t looking to leave Uber, Saint John said. Uber still has work to do when it comes to corporate culture.
But Endeavor came to her with an opportunity she didn’t want to pass up, she said, “to change the narrative around diversity and inclusion”:
“Sometimes people think (pop culture) is superficial,” she told Tech Crunch. “These are where the stories that are being told are created. If we can help influence that, then that’s so much better for the entire narrative of what we need to get across.” What we need to get across, she said, is “all the deep stuff,” like diversity, inclusion and sexual harassment. “These are all pop culture issues,” she said. “It’s like, how can all of those things work in concert to make sure the narrative is told in a way that is powerful.”
Uber’s corporate culture isn’t “where it needs to be today,” Saint John said. “There’s still a lot to be done in that regard.”
Saint John was born in Ghana and moved to the U.S. when she was a teenager.
At Endeavor, Saint John said she sees herself being able to impact storytelling in a new type of way:
“Unfair or not — as a black woman … you are sometimes forcibly in the center of the conversation and sometimes, unfairly, given the reigns to fix it … So while I don’t feel the responsibility of actually doing that job — because there are people whose job that is — I do still feel the responsibility of contributing and creating solutions for the company I’m in and the industry for which I work, which is Hollywood.”