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Uber co-founder hires away Target exec after the two met at a TED Talk

Uber is lifting one of Target’s top execs.

Jeff Jones has been Target’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer – he’s now heading west to San Francisco to be the president of ridesharing at Uber, according to releases from both companies Tuesday.

The Target release, from CEO Brian Cornell, includes quotes about how valuable Jones has been for the bullseye, while the Uber blog post by CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick goes on about how excited they are for the future.

But one of the more interesting nuggets is toward the bottom of the blog post, when Kalanick talks about how he and Jones first met in February – after the Uber co-founder gave a TED Talk in Vancouver.

Kalanick’s 19-minute speech was about the ride-share service’s carpooling ambitions – so not only making money, but also cutting congestion and the carbon footprint in cities.

“Within minutes we were debating how Uber could improve its reputation,” Kalanick said of he and Jones’ encounter afterward. “And since then we’ve discussed everything from profitability to brand love and how to differentiate our driver experience most effectively.”

Fast forward six months, and Jones will now be working alongside Kalanick.

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Jeff Jones. (Photo: Target)

“It’s super clear to me that Jeff understands scale, operational excellence, innovation and storytelling – and that he’s up for learning and testing his limits,” Kalanick said.

On the Target side, Cornell credited Jones for “modernizing” the company’s marketing and driving the broad strategy, specifically pointing out Jones’ emphasis on digital efforts.

Jones joined the company in 2012, having previously worked at places such as Gap, Coca-Cola, Leo Burnett Worldwide, and more.

He appears to have survived the major shake-up among Target’s top executives following the 2013 holiday data breach. Cornell took over the following summer, and made a number of significant moves.

Jones will officially be out Sept. 9.

Target meanwhile will be looking extensively, both inside and outside the company, for a successor.

Target is the fourth-largest employer in the state of Minnesota, with nearly 30,000 workers, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

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