Khos­row­shahi takes the reins at Uber

‘This com­pany has to change,’ new CEO says at first meet­ing

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Marco della Cava

Uber started a new ride Wed­nes­day, as in­com­ing CEO Dara Khos­row­shahi took over from co-founder Travis Kalan­ick at an all-hands head­quar­ters meet­ing.

In au­dio leaked to Yahoo, a sub­dued Kalan­ick can be heard halt­ingly recit­ing Khos­row­shahi’s ré­sumé — born in Tehran, em­i­grated to New York’s Westch­ester County at age 9, ed­u­cated at Brown Univer­sity, star at Ex­pe­dia.

“So Uber’s next chap­ter be­gins to­day,” Kalan­ick says. “And we have an in­spir­ing leader to take us there. His name is Dara. Let’s clap.”

While Ex­pe­dia’s out­go­ing CEO pledged to main­tain the cor­po­rate drive for which Uber, of­ten con­tro­ver­sially, be­came known, the 48-year-old also vowed to address the toxic cul­tural is­sues that rocked the com­pany this year.

“This com­pany has to change,” Khos­row­shahi said, ac­cord­ing to a tweet posted by Uber’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions team. “What got us here is not what’s go­ing to get us to the next level.”

Khos­row­shahi, who ad­dressed staffers in con­ver­sa­tion with Uber board mem­ber and Kalan­ick sup­porter Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton, added that the com­pany’s legacy of sex­ism and ag­gres­sive­ness as out­lined in Su­san Fowler’s ex­plo­sive Fe­bru­ary blog post had to be changed at a grass-roots level.

“If cul­ture is pushed top down, then peo­ple don’t be­lieve in it,” he said, ac­cord­ing to an Uber tweet. “Cul­ture is writ­ten bot­toms up.”

An­other tweet in­di­cated that Khos­row­shahi wants to bring in a chair­man who can serve as his “part­ner at the board level.” Uber’s myr­iad is­sues in­clude re­cent board in­fight­ing that af­fected the CEO search.

Uber in­vestor Bench­mark Cap- ital, which has a seat on the board, is su­ing Kalan­ick for mis­man­age­ment. On Wed­nes­day, a judge ruled in Kalan­ick’s fa­vor that the dis­pute needs to be re­solved through ar­bi­tra­tion and not a trial.

Khos­row­shahi also is likely to take ad­van­tage of mul­ti­ple Csuite open­ings to cre­ate an in­ner cir­cle ca­pa­ble of ex­e­cut­ing his march­ing or­ders for the rideshar­ing com­pany.

The va­can­cies in­clude chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. The last of these is likely to be a pri­or­ity for Khos­row­shahi, who be­fore tak­ing the reins at Ex­pe­dia in 2005 served as CFO of Barry Diller’s IAC Travel, which bought Ex­pe­dia in 2003.

Khos­row­shahi’s close col­lab­o­ra­tor at Ex­pe­dia, CFO Mark Ok­er­strom, was pro­moted Wed­nes­day to chief ex­ec­u­tive of the on­line travel com­pany.

The all-hands meet­ing at Uber was a pri­vate event. But re­ports from those at­tend­ing sketched out a few salient de­tails.

Khos­row­shahi be­lieves pri­vately-held Uber, whose $70 bil­lion val­u­a­tion has taken a hit of late, should go public in “18 to 36 months,” re­ported The In­for­ma­tion’s Amir Efrati, cit­ing a source at the meet­ing. Khos­row­shahi also said Uber needs to “sta­bi­lize” and then de­cide “if we nar­row the fo­cus or con­tinue with big bets, and which ones,” ac­cord­ing to the source. The new CEO will start work Tuesday.

Efrati also tweeted out a group photo from the event, show­ing a smil­ing Khos­row­shahi — decked out in a black Uber T-shirt — stand­ing next to Huff­in­g­ton and Kalan­ick.


Uber CEO Dara Khos­row­shahi is now likely to fo­cus on fill­ing mul­ti­ple C-suite open­ings, in­clud­ing the CFO spot.

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