Facebook's former chief security officer is jumping ship to join Uber, according to a blog post by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick himself.
Joe Sullivan, who served at Facebook overseeing security policies and practices for five years, is now joining Uber in a position that many experts believe should have been created a long time ago.
As Uber grows into millions of trips every day, so too do the security issues that plague the $41 billion ride-sharing international firm. Just last week, Uber began issuing refunds to customers whose accounts have been hacked and wrongfully charged for rides they did not take.
In February, Uber announced that its system has been breached, exposing to hackers the names, addresses, drivers' licenses, and license numbers of more than 50,000 drivers whose information are stored in Uber's database. What's more, Uber earned flak for failing to inform its drivers of the hack when it happened, which was in September, and waited five months before telling them of the breach.
But Sullivan's responsibility will not simply be to overlook the execution of new security policies regarding Uber's cyber-infrastructure. The company is also facing a host of scandals about the physical security of its drivers and their passengers.
"It's no longer about traditional metrics for safe transportation or keeping our community's data private and secure, but about how we lead efforts to redefine and strengthen physical and data security in the location-based world," says Kalanick.
Part of Uber's plan to strengthen its much criticized security policies is to implement biometrics and driver monitoring, as well as collaborating with city and state governments where Uber now operates, although Kalanick did not mention any details on what it plans to do.
Several incidents of Uber drivers accused of sexually assaulting their passengers and one where a driver was overcome by an epileptic seizure, hitting three parked cars and a pedestrian in the process, have prompted Uber to release an in-app panic button for drivers and passengers to automatically alert authorities. The company also launched a 24/7 Incident Response Team to respond to and investigate such incidences. With Sullivan at the helm of security, it is possible that Uber will roll out new programs to improve physical and cybersecurity.
"I had the good fortune to work at two amazing companies - eBay and Facebook - when they were growing rapidly," says Sullivan in his own statement. "I look forward to bringing the best practices that I've learned along the way to Uber and doing defining work in bridging the divide between the digital and physical worlds."
Sullivan's career in technology began with him working as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco during the dot-com era, during which he specialized in tech-related cases. He then moved on to eBay as the senior director of trust and safety and also as a lawyer for eBay's digital payments arm PayPal before moving to Facebook in 2008. Sullivan graduated with a degree in political science from Providence College.