Embattled car sharing company Uber announced that the board has finally tapped someone for Chief Executive Officer: Dara Khosrowshahi. The board of directors pegged Khosrowshahi to fill the critical position which has been vacant since the board forced founder and previous CEO, Travis Kalanick, to resign amidst allegations of a culture of sexual harassment at Uber that the did nothing to correct.
The board went outside of the car industry and the tech industry to find a new CEO. Khosrowshahi is President and CEO of the Expedia, Inc. and previously worked in investment banking at Allen & Co, USA Network, and IAC under Barry Diller. He worked with Diller in the travel field and acquired Expedia, Orbitz, and HomeAway. One of the big skills that Khosrowshahi will bring to Uber is his ability to seamlessly bring into focus disparate businesses and make them work together, and, more importantly, his ability to instill strong corporate values and culture.
The board saw someone with the skill and proven ability to work wonders in a fragmented industry like travel, someone they believe could turn the ship around as they try to clean up the company and get it ready for an eventual initial public offering. We’re sure it doesn’t hurt that the Expedia stock is up 32% this year. It also doesn’t hurt that he has no problem rustling some feathers, as he was one of the first CEOs to publicly challenge President Trump while refusing to sit on any his committees, and he led the charge against Alphabet (Google’s parent company) in the European antitrust case. This could help to redeem Uber’s public image and position them as an upstart against rival Waymo (owned by Google).
Lastly, it appears that the board also saw someone who, according to close personal friends, is not someone who is larger than life on a personal or public level. Khosrowshahi can put the company first and lead from the inside out. Uber certainly needs some adult supervision and, by all appearances, they’ve found their person. While he has yet to accept the offer, Expedia Chairman Barry Diller sent an email to company employees confirming the offer and that he expects Khosrowshahi to accept the position at Uber. If he does so, it won’t come cheap. Khosrowshahi has almost $200 million in Expedia stock that Uber would have to buy or match to bring him onboard. The car sharing company better hope that Khosrowshahi can right the ship, and fast.