Tusk Ventures has hailed the former general manager of Uber’s New York operations, Josh Mohrer, as its new managing director.
Mohrer’s departure comes at a tough time for Uber. The company is still recovering from a series of very public missteps involving payments to drivers, sexual harassment, potential intellectual property theft, bad executive behavior, and the deployment of software that allowed it to elude law enforcement.
Mohrer, the manager of the company’s operations in the New York tri-state area who has been with Uber for the past five years, said that he had no involvement in any of Uber’s recent troubles.
“Things have been going on at Uber always,” Mohrer said. “Whatever mistakes were made, Uber is well on the way to fixing them.”
Delving back into Uber’s history shows that Mohrer himself was involved in some of the company’s previous issues.
“We had a tool that could view rides in progress,” said Mohrer, “Really for market-making purposes. That was locked down heavily after this.”
Putting it in context, he said that the reporter in question was running late to a meeting. He tracked the reporter to see when they would arrive and met them… disclosing instantly that he’d used the ride tracking tool. “I see in retrospect that that was wrong,” Mohrer said of the incident.
Mohrer was also involved in the 2014 kerfuffle over the company’s aggressive business practices regarding its competitors. Writing in Slate at the time, Alison Griswold detailed one initiative that landed the New York City manager in hot water.
Mohrer was implicated in a scandal this past January in which Uber employees ordered and canceled at least 100 rides from competitor Gett. Noyes described the incident as “likely too aggressive a sales tactic”; Gett likened it to a denial of service attack. A few months later, it happened again—another car service competitor, Lyft, said Uber contractors had ordered and canceled thousands of its rides in New York over the course of a month. Leaked internal documents showed that Uber’s New York team even had a formal name for this project: Operation SLOG.
“It was a mistake,” Mohrer said. “And I regret it.”
For his part, Tusk Ventures founder (and early Uber investor) Bradley Tusk has nothing but glowing praise for Mohrer.
“With Josh, now we can offer our portfolio companies so much more than solving their political problems — real experience on operations, growth, customer acquisition. To add someone who built a multi-billion dollar annual business from the ground up is rare,” Tusk wrote to me. “The fact that we know him so well and like him so much makes it pretty much extraordinary.”
Throughout his tenure at Uber, Mohrer has made some small investments alongside or through various syndicates on AngelList, but it is Mohrer’s experience growing Uber’s New York business that has Tusk most excited.
Indeed, no one doubts Mohrer’s skills building a business. New York is one of Uber’s largest markets (if not its largest) and has been a central piece of the company’s strategy since its inception (New York was Uber’s second market after San Francisco).
In a blog post, announcing his decision to join Tusk, Mohrer cites the achievements he’s accomplished at Uber and his need to move on (the fact that his options have now vested probably don’t hurt).
In the post, Mohrer writes:
On the same day as our colleagues in SF, we introduced the world to uberX, the low cost Uber.
We brought yellow taxis to the Uber app, for a little while at least.
We created UberRUSH, the company’s first entry into moving things in addition to people.
When my first daughter was born in 2014, we launched a reliable car-seat option for children to get around the city more safely.
We brought Uber to the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore, and all across the great states of New Jersey and Connecticut.
We successfully campaigned to bring Uber to the balance of New York State with a recently passed framework for ridesharing.
Mohrer has put the past behind him and has learned from his mistakes, he said. And those lessons he’s learned can be put to work for the benefit of startups in the Tusk portfolio.
There are few early stage firms that can boast having an executive who has the operating experience — and the public exposure — that Mohrer has had. And as he embarks on the next chapter of his career in startups, other companies will be able to follow in his footsteps — avoiding the pitfalls… and scaling the heights that have helped turn Uber into one of the biggest startup stories in tech.