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Uber chooses Expedia head Dara Khosrowshahi as new CEO

Mr. Khosrowshahi emerged as the leading candidate from a field of three finalists

MIKE ISAAC | NYT  |  San Francisco 

Uber chooses Expedia's head Dara Khosrowshahi as new CEO
CEO of Expedia, Inc Dara Khosrowshahi attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Photo: Reuters

selected Dara Khosrowshahi, who leads the online travel company Expedia, to be its chief executive on Sunday, two people with knowledge of the decision said. The selection capped a contentious search process as the ride-hailing company seeks to move past a turbulent period.

Mr. Khosrowshahi emerged as the leading candidate from a field of three finalists over a weekend of board meetings, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were confidential.

One finalist, Jeffrey R. Immelt, the former chief of General Electric, withdrew on Sunday when it became clear that he did not enough have support, said two people familiar with the process. The board had been leaning toward Meg Whitman, the chief of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the people said. But matters changed over the course of Sunday afternoon and the board decided on Mr. Khosrowshahi.

and the board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Choosing Mr. Khosrowshahi is crucial to returning stability to Uber, the world’s biggest ride-hailing company, which has been without a leader since its co-founder, Travis Kalanick, stepped down from the C.E.O. job under pressure on June 20. Under Mr. Kalanick, changed the transportation landscape by offering people the ability to summon a ride through an app, and the privately held company swelled to a nearly $70 billion colossus.

But Uber’s future became murkier this year when the company was pummeled by scandal after scandal, including sexual harassment accusations in the workplace, a Department of Justice criminal investigation into some of its methods, and an intellectual property dispute with a self-driving car rival. While Uber’s business continued to grow, Mr. Kalanick’s management style faced scrutiny and investors mutinied against him.

How much of an impact Mr. Khosrowshahi can have on is uncertain. The company still bears the imprint of Mr. Kalanick, who is on Uber’s board.

The search for a new C.E.O. was riven by discord, especially between Mr. Kalanick and Benchmark, a venture capital firm that is a major shareholder and that also has a seat on Uber’s board. Both Mr. Kalanick and Benchmark had their own preferred candidates for a new chief. Benchmark also has sued Mr. Kalanick to try and force him off the board.

The logjam was only broken in the past few days. Mr. Immelt and Mr. Khosrowshahi presented to the board on Friday, said the people with knowledge of the process. Ms. Whitman presented on Saturday.

Ms. Whitman had previously said more than once that she planned to stay at H.P.E. She had been in close touch with board members in recent days.

Mr. Khosrowshahi has been president and chief executive of Expedia since 2005. He is also on the board of The New York Times Company.

Running will be no easy task. Even with Uber’s business growing and on a path toward a possible initial public offering, Mr. Khosrowshahi will have to disentangle the company’s workplace culture, legal challenges and regulatory scrutiny.

©2017 The New York Times News Service

First Published: Mon, August 28 2017. 07:55 IST