Just nine hours after Jeff Immelt tweeted that he was no longer in the race to be Uber’s next CEO, moments ago Uber’s board selected Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, 48, various news outlets report. According to Recode, the board selected the “third candidate”, one who was not only an unknown until now, but one who as the photo below shows, is also not a woman despite his beguiling first name and the board’s rumored prerogative to pick a female next leader.
Dara Khosrowshahi, current CEO of Expedia
In a statement, a spokesperson said: “The Board has voted and will announce the decision to the employees first.” If he accepts, he would be replacing founder Travis Kalanick and interim CEO Ariana Huffington.
The decision appears to have stumped everyone, including Recode’s Kara Swisher who writes that “what that means is anyone’s guess, and sources close to one of the remaining possible CEO picks — Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman — said she has not been informed of any choice nor had the board agreed to some the the things she was asking for to take the job. Whitman was asking for a number of things, including less involvement of ousted CEO Travis Kalanick.”
As the NYT adds, Jeff Immelt, a finalst until this morning, withdrew when it became clear that he did not enough have support. Recode adds that “Immelt dropped out of the running this morning, with sources close to his thinking calling the process totally “dysfunctional” (and worse).”
And while the board was leaning toward Meg Whitman, the chief of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, “matters changed over the course of Sunday afternoon and the board decided on Mr. Khosrowshahi” according to the NYT.
While not much is known about Dara Khosrowshahi, and why the board thinks the Expedia chief can successfully replace Travis Kalanick as head of the world’s most valuable private company, what is known is that under Khosrowshahi, Expedia was one of the first tech companies to file a legal challenge against Trump’s travel ban, citing the potential harm it could do its employees and customers. As such, the Iranian-American appears to be high on the #resistance totem. His anti-Trump bias was further exposed in his year end note to employees, in which he said he wants to send “just a big thank you to our global employee base for an improved 2016 and certainly an improved end to the year. And hopefully we will all be alive to see the end of next year.”
Some further background:
Dara Khosrowshahi has served as CEO of Expedia, Inc., since August 2005. Since that time, Expedia has extended its global presence to more than 60 countries worldwide through Expedia, Hotels.com, and Hotwire online booking brands, and the travel community sites of TripAdvisor Media Network. Ten years later, in 2015, Expedia awarded him $90 million worth of stock options as part of a long-term employment agreement, stating he would stay until 2020.
Before joining Expedia, Khosrowshahi served as the CEO of IAC Travel. Khosrowshahi worked at Allen & Company from 1991 to 1998, and as its vice president from 1995 to 1998. He is also a board director for BET.com, Hotels.com and several other companies.
In February 2015, the New York Times Company announced Khosrowshahi as one of two new nominees for its board of directors. He will formally stand for election at the annual meeting of stockholders on May 6, 2015. Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of the New York Times and chairman of The New York Times Company praised Khosrowshahi’s “comprehensive digital and international experience, as well as significant financial expertise”.
The search for Uber’s new CEO had been riven by scandal and discord, especially between former CEO Kalanick and Benchmark, the VC firm that is a major Uber shareholder and that also has a seat on Uber’s board. Both Kalanick and Benchmark had their own preferred candidates for a new chief. Benchmark recently sued Kalanick to try and force him off the board.