Uber Chooses Expedia’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to Lead Ride-hailing Company

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Expedia, takes over a company that has been pummeled by scandal after scandal.
Rob Latour/Rex Features, via Associated Press

Uber chose Dara Khosrowshahi, who leads the online travel company Expedia, to be its chief executive on Sunday, two people with knowledge of the decision said. The selection capped a contentious search process as the ride-hailing company seeks to move past a turbulent period.

Mr. Khosrowshahi emerged as the leading candidate from a field of three finalists over a weekend of Uber board meetings, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were confidential.

One finalist, Jeffrey R. Immelt, the former chief of General Electric, withdrew on Sunday when it became clear that he did not have enough support, said two people familiar with the process.

The board of directors and executives inside of Uber had instead been leaning toward Meg Whitman, the chief of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the people said. But matters changed quickly over the course of Sunday afternoon, as directors and Ms. Whitman could not agree on terms in which she would take over as chief executive, the people said. Ultimately, the board decided on the third candidate, Mr. Khosrowshahi.

Uber, the company’s board and Expedia did not respond to requests for comment.

Choosing Mr. Khosrowshahi is crucial to returning stability to Uber, the world’s biggest ride-hailing company, which has been without a leader since its co-founder, Travis Kalanick, stepped down from the C.E.O. job under pressure on June 20. Under Mr. Kalanick, Uber changed the transportation landscape by offering people the ability to summon a ride through an app, and the privately held company swelled to a nearly $70 billion colossus.

But Uber’s future became murkier this year when the company was pummeled by scandal after scandal, including sexual harassment accusations in the workplace, a Department of Justice criminal investigation into some of its methods, and an intellectual property dispute with a self-driving car rival. While Uber’s business continued to grow, Mr. Kalanick’s management style faced scrutiny and investors mutinied against him.

How much of an impact Mr. Khosrowshahi can have on Uber is uncertain. The company still bears the imprint of Mr. Kalanick, who remains on Uber’s board. The board itself has been rived with discord, especially between Mr. Kalanick and Benchmark, a venture capital firm that is a major Uber shareholder and that also has a seat on Uber’s board. Both Mr. Kalanick and Benchmark had their own preferred candidates for a new chief. Benchmark also has sued Mr. Kalanick to try and force him off the board.

Mr. Khosrowshahi, who has been president and chief executive of Expedia since 2005, has experience in a digital industry that, like Uber, affects offline life and the logistics and movement of people. Based in Bellevue, Wash., Expedia has travel brands including Hotels.com and Orbitz. The publicly traded company is smaller than the privately held Uber, with a market capitalization of around $23 billion compared with Uber’s private valuation of nearly $70 billion.

Mr. Khosrowshahi also joined the board of The New York Times Company in 2015, and previously worked at IAC/InterActive Corp.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Mike Isaac