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Uber gets help navigating policy roadblocks

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company Uber has appointed a number of prominent and high-ranking public policy experts from around the world to help it better deal with resistant politicians and regulators.

Some of Uber's latest hires include a former United States cabinet secretary, a former Peruvian prime minister even a Saudi princess.

They were all given seats on the company's new Public Policy Advisory Board to give Uber pointers about how it could more effectively - and perhaps less controversially - go about disrupting transportation markets around the world as it continues to expand at an extraordinarily fast clip.

That's according to a blog post from Uber's Chief Advisor David Plouffe, who himself was once a campaign manager for President Barack Obama.

Plouffe said the members of the new board, which has eight members and met for the first time earlier this week, included the former US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former prime minister of Peru, Roberto Danino, and Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family and an entrepreneur.

Cultural differences

Some other members included Neelie Kroes, a former European Commission vice president who headed competition and digital agenda oversight, Allan Fells, the former head of Australia's competition authority, and Melody Barnes, who used to lead the domestic policy council at the Obama White House.

In his blog post, Plouffe wrote: "Uber has a reputation for getting straight to the point (sometimes a little too quickly) - and we want their feedback to be equally direct!"

That directness already showed in a recent interview that Kroes, who spoke out in favor of Uber during her time at the European Commission, gave to the Financial Times. She told the paper that Uber must "take into account that there are still differences in culture."

"Don't think that everybody is attacking you," she said.

cjc/kd (dpa, AFP)