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21 April 2018 00:00:00 AM Breaking News


Uber Selects Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to Lead Company

Uber Technologies Inc.’s board has voted to appoint Expedia Inc. EXPE +0.87% Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO, capping a tumultuous nine-week search after Travis Kalanick resigned in late June, according to people familiar with the matter.

Uber’s board on Sunday had been considering either Mr. Khosrowshahi or Meg Whitman, chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. HPE +0.37% , ultimately choosing the lesser-known executive who has been at the helm of Expedia since 2005.

In an email sent Monday to Expedia employees, Chairman Barry Diller said it appears likely Mr. Khosrowshahi will accept Uber’s offer. Mr. Diller, who is also chief executive of IAC, wrote that “he’s devoted 12 great years to building this company and if this is what he wants for his next adventure it will be with my best wishes.”

Representatives for Uber didn’t return requests for comment.

Uber’s decision caps a remarkably chaotic leadership search for the world’s most valuable venture-funded startup, one that has been shaken by an internecine war on its board. Benchmark Capital, one of Uber’s biggest and earliest investors, first led the ouster in June of co-founder Mr. Kalanick, then sued him to try to force him off the board. Other investors chose sides, exchanging accusations and counterclaims that remain unresolved.

If he accepts the job, Mr. Khosrowshahi, 48 years old, will have the task of repairing Uber’s image after months of scandal at the ride-hailing firm. The company is grappling with the fallout from allegations of sexism and sexual harassment, depleted executive ranks and a lawsuit by Google parent Alphabet Inc. alleging that Uber used design secrets for its self-driving program.

He will also have to contend with a deeply divided board and shareholder base over the future of the company, as well as his predecessor, Mr. Kalanick, who sits on Uber’s board and wishes to have strong input into the company’s direction.

Mr. Khosrowshahi, an Iranian-American who has run Expedia for more than a decade, stands to potentially make a fortune at Uber if he can steer the company to a successful public offering. It isn’t clear when Uber, valued last year by investors at around $68 billion, may file for an IPO—but it is first working to shore up its finances to appeal to potential investors.

In 2015, Mr. Khosrowshahi was one of the most highly compensated chief executives in the S&P 500, receiving a pay package valued as much as $94.6 million in mostly long-term stock options designed to get him to stay for several years.

In Mr. Khosrowshahi, Uber would get a longtime internet executive with deal-making experience and a record of steady growth. He started his career at investment bank Allen & Co., impressing Mr. Diller with his financial acumen. He joined Mr. Diller’s company in 1998, became financial chief of IAC, then called USA Networks, in 2002 and took over the CEO job of Expedia when it was spun off in 2005.

In his note Monday, Mr. Diller said Mr. Khosrowshahi was grappling with the decision to join Uber “out of both his abiding enthusiasm for Expedia’s future as well as his loyalty to all of us.”

At Uber, Mr. Khosrowshahi would inherit a 15,000-employee global concern that is still deeply unprofitable. It had losses of more than $3 billion last year and nearly $1.4 billion in this year’s first half. It is still increasing sales, including reporting last week $1.75 billion in revenue for the second quarter, up 17% from the first quarter. Full-year sales last year were $6.5 billion.

Feb 19 2017

Former Uber software engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti claims in a blog post that management ignored multiple complaints from her and other women at Uber of sexism and harassment by their managers. Then-CEO Travis Kalanick orders an investigation.

Feb 23 2017

Google parent Alphabet Inc. sues the ride-hailing company for allegedly stealing trade secrets to jump-start its own autonomous vehicle program. The lawsuit centers around Anthony Levandowski, a former manager in Google’s self-driving car project who left to create Otto, a self-driving truck maker acquired by Uber.

Feb 28 2017

A video emerges showing Mr. Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had asked him questions about fares at the end of a recent trip. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility [for themselves],” Mr. Kalanick says in the video.

March 1 2017

Mr. Kalanick says he was ashamed of the behavior captured by the driver’s dashboard camera and vows to “grow up.”

May 23 2017

Uber says it mistakenly underpaid New York City drivers for 2½ years, an error likely costing it tens of millions of dollars. It was the second time in three months the ride-hailing company had acknowledged shortchanging workers.

June 1 2017

Uber says its head of finance, Gautam Gupta, is leaving as the ride-hailing company reports a $708 million loss for the first quarter, despite generating revenue of $3.4 billion.

June 13 2017

An investigation into Uber's culture by the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder zeroes in on aspects it says reinforce exclusionary and other poor behavior. Recommendations include transferring some of Mr. Kalanick’s responsibilities to other managers.

Private-equity billionaire and Uber board member David Bonderman resigns hours after he makes a disparaging remark about women during a companywide meeting to address problems with the company’s culture.

Mr. Kalanick says he will take indefinite leave from the company he built into the world’s most valuable startup. “If we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve,” he says.

June 20 2017

Mr. Kalanick resigns following investor pressure to step down.

July 27 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chief Executive Meg Whitman, one of a handful of candidates being considered to replace Mr. Kalanick, says on Twitter she isn't interested. Uber also approaches General Electric Co. Chairman Jeff Immelt about the position.

July 28 2017

Uber’s search becomes more complicated as the company considers whether to negotiate for a multibillion investment from SoftBank Group Corp. or wait until after it finds a new leader.

August 3 2017

The Wall Street Journal reports that Uber knowingly purchased 1,000 defective vehicles and leased them to Uber drivers in Singapore without the needed repairs. Honda Motor Co. had recalled the vehicles for an electrical component that could overheat and catch fire.

August 8 2017

Uber plans to wind down its U.S. auto-leasing business after discovering the program was losing about $9,000 per car rather than the $500 the company originally estimated. The company had invested around $600 million in the project.

August 10 2017

Uber investor Benchmark Capital sues Mr. Kalanick in an effort to remove him from the board. The suit intensifies a feud over Mr. Kalanick’s role as two other investors come to his defense.

August 22 2017

Four mutual-fund companies mark down their investments in Uber by as much as 15%, suggesting investors are souring on the ride-hailing company’s prospects and ability to recover from the string of setbacks.

August 23 2017

Uber reports a $645 million loss for the second quarter, though it narrowed its loss from the first quarter and doubled its gross bookings to $8.7 billion.

August 27 2017

General Electric’s Mr. Immelt, one of the frontrunners to replace Mr. Kalanick, takes his name out of the running after observing disorder and divisions on the company’s board. The board, after also hearing presentations from Ms. Whitman and Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, selects Mr. Khosrowshahi.

Expedia, by comparison, had sales of $8.77 billion last year, up 31% from the year before, with net income of $281.8 million, which was down by 63% from a year earlier.

The choice of Mr. Khosrowshahi was a surprise given other, bigger candidate names that surfaced in the media. Over the weekend, directors met with Ms. Whitman and General Electric Co. Chairman Jeff Immelt for final presentations detailing their visions for the company in the top job.

Mr. Immelt removed himself from consideration on Sunday morning after observing disorder and divisions among different factions of Uber’s board, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Others said it was a face-saving move after he was advised he would not get the votes necessary to be elected to Uber’s top job.

Ms. Whitman’s candidacy was a source of bitter fighting among directors after she stated publicly in July on Twitter and last week in The Wall Street Journal that she wasn’t interested in the position. Some directors felt Ms. Whitman’s re-emergence was being pushed by Benchmark Capital, which has had a close relationship with her since her time as eBay Inc. CEO.

Benchmark has denied it advocated for Ms. Whitman. The firm earlier this month sued Mr. Kalanick, claiming he knew about misbehavior at the company when he persuaded the venture-capital firm and other shareholders to add three board seats under his control. Mr. Kalanick and Matt Cohler, a partner at Benchmark, are both on the board and five-member CEO search committee. Mr. Kalanick has said the lawsuit is without merit.

The lawsuit, and competing claims and accusations among Uber’s biggest shareholders, served as a distraction as the board aimed to complete the CEO search by early September.

If Uber ultimately hires Mr. Khosrowshahi, the search will have taken place in about two months, a relatively short period for a company of Uber’s size. Generally it takes three to five months for a company of Uber’s size, recruiters say. But Uber is in great need of a new leader after Mr. Kalanick resigned, leaving the company’s big decisions to an executive committee of more than a dozen people.

Mr. Khosrowshahi would need to find new executives in a number of top jobs, including chiefs of finance, marketing and operations. Uber is also looking for a new independent chairman.

Before Uber officially announces Mr. Khosrowshahi as CEO, he will still have to negotiate his contract, according to people familiar with the matter. That process can take days or even weeks sometimes, but Uber hopes to fast-track the process to announce the executive to employees this week, one of the people said.

Mr. Khosrowshahi sits on the boards of both sports retailer Fanatics Inc. and New York Times Co. Fanatics CEO Doug Mack called Mr. Khosrowshahi’s appointment as Uber CEO “a coup” in an interview. “He understands how tech is a catalyst for anything you’re doing in a business. And he’s very attuned to matters of culture.” Uber is desperate need of a culture revamp after its scandal-ridden year and a series of executive departures.



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