- Rubicon Global has hired Elaine Richards to be its next president, effective Dec. 4. Richards is leaving her role as executive vice president of business operations at Cars.com for the position at Rubicon's Atlanta headquarters.
- “Elaine is a truly transformative leader. She has challenged the status quo in the automobile and technology industries and now brings her strong leadership skills to Rubicon Global and the waste and recycling industry,” said Rubicon CEO Nate Morris in a statement. "Her experience and success at Cars.com gives her invaluable insight and tools to help Rubicon Global as we work to transform another legacy industry."
- According to the company, current President Perry Moss "will continue to be a critical part of Rubicon, serving as co-founder and chief advisor focusing on building Rubicon’s national account business and helping with long-term planning and strategy."
Richards is new to the waste industry and told Waste Dive she became familiar with Rubicon when introduced to Morris at an event earlier this year.
Prior to joining Cars.com in 2010, Richards was vice president of strategic initiatives, network sales and operations for the publisher McClatchy Interactive and worked at a variety of news organizations around the country. She sees parallels to waste in terms of competing with a small group of dominant companies in the auto industry and engaging at a community level with local media outlets.
In the announcement, Morris said the timing "couldn't be better" given the various developments at Rubicon. These include the completion of a fundraising round, the continuation of another, plans to reach 5,000 small and mid-sized business customers in the near future, and an expansion of the company's "smart cities proprietary technology" in 2018.
Richards echoed this message and said her goal was to "operationalize that vision and work on providing a solid go-to-market plan" while "providing great customer service." She also emphasized Rubicon's small business focus as a top priority.
Going forward, Richards said this would involve more education and tailored solutions for clients, with the goal of finding cost savings through sustainability. "In order for some of the changes that we need as a country and as a planet to really take hold, they also have to make economic sense," she said.
This is the latest in a series of high-profile personnel announcements at the company. Rubicon hired a new CFO in June and also brought on a new national director of outside sales — before terminating him in July "out of an abundance of caution" due to an ongoing trade secrets lawsuit. Morris described the overall leadership changes as a transformation to "improve our internal functional teams and enhance our customer experience and hauler relationships."
While Rubicon received plenty of positive attention for announcing "unicorn" status with a $1 billion valuation this year and partnering with big names such as TerraCycle, the company has also experienced a fair share of turbulence in 2017.
Some of that came from inciting competition at industry events. Some came from tough coverage in financial press such as Fortune and Bloomberg. Some came from a spate of lawsuits filed by Waste Connections and Republic Services in multiple states that questioned Rubicon's competitive practices and recycling claims.
When asked about how this compared to her experience in other industries, Richards said it seemed unique.
"In auto, for example, you compete on the product and the value that you deliver to customers, and not in legal filings," she said. "So I'm a little surprised and I feel like free market choice is a cornerstone of American industry, and I'd like to think that the same would be true here."