WeWork has hired Uber and Facebook veteran Corey Owens as its first head of global public policy.
Owens served as Uber’s head of public policy from March 2013 to December 2015, becoming a key player in the ride-hailing company’s oft-contentious expansion into new cities. He previously worked on public policy at Facebook and made Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in 2014. After leaving Uber, Owens briefly worked at Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, according to Recode.
He quietly joined WeWork in May. At the co-working company, part of Owens’ job is to co-ordinate with government agencies on issues such as the development of public land. WeWork is currently co-developing the office building Dock 72 on city-owned land in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in partnership with Boston Properties and Rudin Management.
Owens will also handle small-business outreach initiatives. “We kind of view it as community relations,” a source familiar with the company told The Real Deal.
WeWork had hired Arana Hankin, formerly of Empire State Development and government consultancy HR&A Advisors, in November to handle government relations in New York City, but a source said she has since left the firm. In January, Hankin bundled $68,750 in campaign donations from WeWork executives and vendors for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2017 re-election campaign, making her the mayor’s biggest bundler at the time.
Owens is part of WeWork’s public affairs team headed by Jennifer Skyler, who joined the company in January. Skyler and Owens previously worked together at Facebook.
WeWork, founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in 2010, currently runs 107 co-working spaces in 32 cities and was most recently valued at $16 billion. The company, one of the largest private tenants in New York, just signed a large lease at Tower 49 in Midtown East, agreeing to take nearly 160,000 square feet.