Long-time Expedia CEO accepts Uber’s ticket to ride.
In what he has described as “one of the toughest decisions of my life”, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is taking up the top job at Uber.
Khosrowshahi steps into the role following the resignation of founder Travis Kalanick in the wake of a litany of scandals. Kalanick remains on the board of Uber.
‘The Uber board has offered me, and I am accepting, the CEO role for that company’
– DARA KHOSROWSHAHI
Uber is the biggest unicorn in Silicon Valley, a sobriquet it earned for its vast funding of $10bn, which values it at around $70bn.
The outgoing Expedia CEO won out over Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, in what was a contentious decision.
Khosrowshahi will meet with Uber staff today (30 September).
Can Dara Khosrowshahi turn around a battleship?
In an email to Expedia staff, Khosrowshahi wrote: “It’s with truly mixed feelings that I am writing this note to you today. The Uber board has offered me, and I am accepting, the CEO role for that company. This has been one of the toughest decisions of my life. I’ve had the privilege to run Expedia for 12-plus years now, and most of you who have been on this journey with me know that it has not all been easygoing.
“We’ve had to fight through multiple technology replatformings, supplier margin and competitive pressures, worldwide financial meltdowns, enormous integrations, building our global muscles, and a hugely competitive talent and travel marketplace. But we have put our heads down together and pushed and worked and innovated and have built a truly great company and had more than our fair share of fun along the way.”
Khosrowshahi is likely to be handsomely rewarded as CEO of Uber. Despite being a Silicon Valley outsider – for much of his career, he has been located near Seattle – he is already one of the highest-paid tech executives in the US due to a $91m stock option grant last year.
Khosrowshahi, who sits on the board of The New York Times Company, has led Expedia to stellar growth. The company has more than doubled annual revenues since 2012 to almost $8.8bn, yielding profits in the range of $281.8m.
He came to the US at the age of nine after leaving Iran with his parents in 1978 in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution.
Khosrowshahi has his work cut out for him at Uber.
Not only has he to steady the ship in terms of financial performance and technology leadership, he will also have to help the company heal in the wake of a succession of scandals, including sexual harassment, which have made Uber the poster child for the culture problems that pervade the Silicon Valley tech scene.