SEATTLE — Jay Carney, who served as press secretary for President Barack Obama, is leaving Amazon’s top policy and public communications position to join Airbnb.
Airbnb said in a blog post Friday that Mr. Carney would become its global head of policy and communications.
Mr. Carney, a former journalist at Time magazine, joined Amazon in 2015 as its first senior vice president of global affairs, combining public relations and government lobbying as the company became increasingly critical. He fiercely protected Amazon’s image and that of his boss, Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world.
Mr. Carney’s departure is one of several changes that occurred a year at Amazon in the tenure of Andy Jassy, who succeeded Mr. Bezos as chief executive. Mr. Jassy, who previously built and led Amazon’s cloud computing business, is known for his attention and interest in details and has delved into areas of the company newly under his control.
Dave Clark, the architect of Amazon’s logistics expansion, announced last month that he was leaving before a successor was named. John Felton, a transportation manager, replaced Mr. Clark as the chief executive of Amazon’s retail and operations operations. Two of the company’s most senior Black executives, who were colleagues of Mr. Felton, also left.
Mr. Jassy announced Mr. Carney’s departure in an email to his senior management team, praising him for “his many significant achievements on behalf of Amazon’s customers and employees as he helped us build a strong set of capabilities.” building in public policy and public relations.” The New York Times received the email.
“Everything about my time at Amazon has exceeded my expectations,” Mr. Carney said in an email to his team on Friday, which was also obtained by The Times. He did not comment when contacted on Thursday.
Amazon now faces more regulatory threats from governments around the world than at any time in its history. The Federal Trade Commission, led by an Amazon critic, Lina Khan, is conducting an extensive investigation into whether the company’s practices violate antitrust laws. Lawmakers could also vote this year on legislation that would prevent Amazon from favoring its own products, such as batteries and garbage bags, over products sold by competitors in its online marketplace.
Amazon’s public relations specialists and lobbyists have promoted the company as a signature employer and a boon to the local economies where it operates. In 2018, the company announced a minimum wage of $15 an hour, with praise from its frequent critic, Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont.
But the team of Mr. Carney got a black eye during Amazon’s search for a second headquarters when, in 2018, it underestimated the progressive backlash it would face in potentially building a large presence in New York. Amazon reversed course and chose a different location.
The team of mr. Carney was also criticized after an official Amazon Twitter account last year dismissed a congressman’s concern that workers had to pee in bottles on the job. The company has apologized.
More recently, Mr. Carney’s team has reacted strongly to antitrust laws, which Amazon says would make it difficult to offer the signature fast shipping of its Prime subscription service. The company spent approximately $9.1 million on federal lobbying in 2015. Last year it spent $19.3 million.
Drew Herdener, who heads public relations under Mr. Carney, was promoted to senior vice president on Thursday, according to four people who were aware of the internal announcement. The communications team has grown from 10 to “several hundreds,” Mr. Herdener said in an interview last fall, adding that Amazon had hired 200 communications professionals in the previous year alone.
While the company is seeking a new head of Global Affairs, Mr. Herdener will report directly to Mr. Jassy, and the policy teams will report to David Zapolsky, its general counsel, according to the email.
Airbnb was looking for its own head of policy and communications after Chris Lehane, a former aide to former President Bill Clinton, left for a cryptocurrency venture capital fund earlier this year.
Erin Griffith reporting contributed.