Late on Sunday, Uber Technologies board of directors made its new CEO pick: Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Expedia. The head of the traveling firm has expressed his desire to join Uber during this harsh transition full of challenges after the forced departure of former leader Travis Kalanick.
Expedia’s chairman, Barry Diller, confirmed in an internal memo sent to employees after news broke that Khosrowshahi intends to leave the company after spending more than a decade at its helm. The Iran-born chief was the last man standing out of three top-ranking tech officials considered for the job.
If he accepts the offer, it won’t be cheap for Uber financially and it won’t be easy for Khosrowshahi professionally. There are a lot of problems to solve at the ride hailing giant, and a lot of ongoing controversies to deal with before even starting to work on making the company profitable.
Who is Dara Khosrowshahi?
Born in Iran in 1969, Dara Khosrowshahi migrated to the United States as a result of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s. He grew up in New York and attended Brown University, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering.
He had his start in the world of travel and transportation by working for USA Networks (now IAC) in the late 1990s. The company acquired Expedia in 2001 and Khosrowshahi rose to lead it in 2005, after which the firm saw significant growth and success mainly from strategic mergers and alliances.
The executive quadrupled yearly revenue at Expedia throughout his 15-year tenure in command, standing at $8.7 billion in 2016. The popular travel company also owns Hotels.com, Trivago, Orbitz, and Travelocity; all former rivals turned allies thanks to Khosrowshahi’s leadership and skills.
Uber’s CEO-to-be also has a tight network of influences spread across Silicon Valley. Members of his family as close as brothers and cousins hold executive positions at Google, Intel, and capital venture firms that have invested in everything from Airbnb and Facebook to Uber itself.
Who is Dara Khosrowshahi, announced yesterday night as Uber's CEO?
— Forbes (@Forbes) August 29, 2017
Mr. Khosrowshahi is no Kalanick, and that’s good for Uber
Out of all the facts popping up in the media after his choosing, the most significant quality of Mr. Khosrowshahi is that he is almost a polar opposite to former CEO Travis Kalanick.
The ousted leader was known for attracting controversy like a magnet; a legacy that still stands to this day and one that even impeded the board’s choice in the first place. The chief of Expedia is actually the “truce” pick, following Kalanick’s preference for Jeff Immelt of General Electric failed to gain board support.
Khosrowshahi will have to deal with Kalanick on a regular basis too since he remains a key member of the board with significant control over the company. Still, he is a seasoned executive with the qualifications Uber demands at this troubling time, and the people skills to drive the company to stability and even success in the long term.