Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been chosen to be Uber’s new chief executive, sources told CNBC.
That decision concluded Uber’s long search to replace former CEO Travis Kalanick, who stepped down in June following a shareholder revolt.
Recode reported that Khosrowshahi, an Iranian American businessman, is considered the “truce” choice for the board, which saw ugly infighting in recent weeks between Kalanick and major investor Benchmark Capital. Earlier this month, Benchmark said it was suing Kalanick on claims of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.
Benchmark was reportedly backing Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman for the top job at Uber, while General Electric boss Jeffrey Immelt was also a front-runner to lead the troubled start-up. Immelt dropped out of the race over the weekend.
Amid weeks of breathless reporting on the decision for Uber’s top spot, Khosrowshahi didn’t make headlines. After he was announced, some deemed him the dark horse candidate.
Khosrowshahi has been at the helm of Expedia since 2005. He has been credited with expanding Expedia’s global presence through several online travel booking brands, which include Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Hotwire.
As Uber’s new leader, he will walk into a situation that would test even the most seasoned CEO: A $70 billion company fending off chaos on all sides.
The company’s ride-hailing business has suffered a series of complications — sexual harassment allegations, a slew of firings related to a workplace culture investigation, political pressure, tussles with regulators, a legal battle with Alphabet, alleged distribution of a rape victim’s medical records, a report of drug use, unflattering videos and emails from the former CEO, mergers, an exploding car, steep losses and infighting among investors — just to name a few.
Another hurdle is the former CEO. Travis Kalanick may no longer have an operating role in his company, but as a key player in Uber’s origin, he has a seat on the board, 10 percent of stock and 16 percent of voting rights in Uber, according to legal filings.
The new boss will need to flesh out the ranks of Uber to get the company back to its pre-2017 growth path. Once-critical deputies like senior vice president Emil Michael, global operations head Ryan Graves, president Jeff Jones, and president of Asia-Pacific Eric Alexander are no longer in their roles in the company. The firm is also without a chief operating officer, chief financial officer and head of finance.
While some tech CEOs have sought to stay out of politics, Khosrowshahi has been openly critical of President Donald Trump. In a recent tweet, he said, “I keep waiting for the moment when our Prez will rise to the expectations of his office and he fails, repeatedly.”
Earlier this year, during Expedia’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Khosrowshahi surprised listeners with his closing remarks. He started by thanking the company’s global employee base for the improved performance in 2016 and then added, “Hopefully we will all be alive to see the end of next year.”
Some saw the remark from Khosrowshahi, who was once a refugee, as a criticism of Trump. He had reportedly been a critic of Trump’s immigration ban that prevented people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Expedia also supported a lawsuit against the ban in January.