Uber pins hopes on new chief

Khos­row­shahi brings travel, money smarts

The Korea Times - - WORLD BUSINESS - (AFP)

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Ex­pe­dia chief Dara Khos­row­shahi is cred­ited with turning the com­pany into a global travel ser­vices be­he­moth, win­ning ad­mi­ra­tion from em­ploy­ees on the jour­ney.

Uber is hop­ing he will steer the con­tro­versy-bat­tered ride-shar­ing ser­vice along a sim­i­larly glo­ri­ous route.

The San Fran­cisco-based startup con­firmed late Tues­day that Khos­row­shahi will re­place ousted chief Travis Kalan­ick.

“We are de­lighted to an­nounce that Uber’s board has voted unan­i­mously to ap­point Dara Khos­row­shahi to be our new CEO,” Uber ex­ec­u­tives said in an email to em­ploy­ees.

“We’re re­ally for­tu­nate to gain a leader with Dara’s ex­pe­ri­ence, tal­ent and vi­sion.”

Khos­row­shahi is known as an ex­pe­ri­enced top ex­ec­u­tive, will­ing to speak his mind and to ad­vo­cate for women get­ting equal pay and lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.

His most re­cent Twit­ter post crit­i­cizes U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his re­sponse to a white su­prem­a­cist rally that turned deadly in Char­lottesville.

“I keep wait­ing for the mo­ment when our Prez will rise to the ex­pec­ta­tions of his of­fice and he fails, re­peat­edly,” Khos­row­shahi said in the tweet, which in­cluded a link to a story about the Trump con­tro­versy.

Born in Iran, Khos­row­shahi im­mi­grated to the United States with his fam­ily as a child and be­came a cit­i­zen here.

Ex­pe­dia shares have climbed more than five-fold dur­ing the 12 years Khos­row­shahi has been in charge of the travel ser­vices in­ter­net firm.

“I don’t doubt his skills and his back­ground in fi­nance and hos­pi­tal­ity, which is go­ing to be very im­por­tant,” said Tim Ba­jarin, pres­i­dent of Sil­i­con Val­ley tech­nol­ogy an­a­lyst firm Cre­ative Strate­gies.

“The only thing we don’t know is his abil­ity to nav­i­gate some of the dif­fi­cult set­tings around in­ter­nal dis­ci­plinary is­sues and code of con­duct that he will in­herit.”

Need for dis­ci­pline

Khos­row­shahi will have to ad­dress con­flicts with reg­u­la­tors and taxi op­er­a­tors, a cut-throat com­pany cul­ture, sex­ism and board mem­bers feud­ing with in­vestors over Kalan­ick.

Kalan­ick was the driv­ing force be­hind Uber, tak­ing a spur-of-mo­ment idea and turning it into the world’s most valu­able ven­ture-funded tech startup.

But his brash per­son­al­ity and free­wheel­ing man­age­ment style, which some ar­gue set a tone inside the com­pany, made him a li­a­bil­ity as well as an as­set to the global rideshar­ing gi­ant, and in June he stepped down as chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Good chief ex­ec­u­tives typ­i­cally ramp up dis­ci­pline and ac­count­abil­ity in em­ployee ranks upon tak­ing charge at com­pa­nies, so that will likely be among steps taken by Khos­row­shahi at the Uber helm, ac­cord­ing to Ba­jarin.

“He is go­ing to have to be highly ag­gres­sive in dis­ci­plin­ing the com­pany to stay on mes­sage and, more im­por­tantly, to stick within whatever the codes of con­duct are,” the an­a­lyst said.

Khos­row­shahi has con­sis­tently scored well at web­site Glass Door, where ex­ec­u­tives and com­pa­nies are anony­mously rated by em­ploy­ees past and present, sug­gest­ing he might able to par­ent work­ers without alien­at­ing them.

And, since Uber’s board mem­bers in­clud­ing Kalan­ick agreed to of­fer him the job as chief, he could have back­ing if he butts heads with those re­sent­ful the founder was pres­sured to step down.

Is it enough?

Khos­row­shahi’s strong back­ground in travel and trans­porta­tion should be a ben­e­fit when it comes to guid­ing Uber through its next phase of growth, ac­cord­ing to Ba­jarin.

Khos­row­shahi’s ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes jobs man­ag­ing fi­nance and strat­egy, hav­ing worked in ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions at IAC/In­terAc­tiveCorp and the in­vest­ment firm of Allen &Com­pany, ac­cord­ing to his LinkedIn pro­file.

Khos­row­shahi, 48, was born in Tehran to a prom­i­nent fam­ily be­hind a con­glom­er­ate with in­ter­ests in food, trade, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, chem­i­cals and more. His fam­ily im­mi­grated to the United States prior to the Ira­nian Revo­lu­tion in 1978.

“Dara came to Amer­ica at nine years old when his fam­ily es­caped Iran on the eve of the Ira­nian Revo­lu­tion,” Uber said in its mes­sage to em­ploy­ees.


Ex­pe­dia CEO Dara Khos­row­shahi at­tends a con­fer­ence in Sun Val­ley, Idaho, July 9, 2015. Uber hired Khos­row­shahi as its new chief ex­ec­u­tive, Tues­day.

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