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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Uber said to hand chief exec spot to Expedia's Khosrowshahi

New CEO will face hurdles as Uber navigates its way toward a still-unscheduled initial public offering

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is said to have been appointed the new Uber chief. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is said to have been appointed the new Uber chief. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Uber Technologies will appoint Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi as chief executive officer of the global ride-hailing leviathan, two people familiar with the matter said. He will succeed co-founder Travis Kalanick, who grew Uber into a US$20 billion annual booking business last year before scandals forced him out.

A spokeswoman for Uber directors said they have chosen a CEO but declined to name the person, saying the board would inform employees first. Expedia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr Khosrowshahi will face a number of hurdles as Uber - which has raised more than $15bn from private investors - navigates its way toward a still-unscheduled initial public offering. The new top executive must grapple with the company’s persistent losses, a high-stakes trade secrets suit filed by Alphabet’s Waymo, a tarnished brand and low morale among Uber’s more than 15,000 global employees.

Uber’s board met over the weekend for a last round of interviews with candidates and to discuss options, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations were private. Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman gained support from some board members after presenting her vision for the company on Saturday, despite repeated public denials that she would take the job. General Electric chairman Jeffrey Immelt was another finalist but failed to win the board’s full backing. He withdrew his name Sunday morning in a Twitter post.

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The board ultimately went with a dark horse. Mr Khosrowshahi hadn’t been named publicly as a finalist during a CEO search that was plagued by leaks, boardroom infighting and a lawsuit involving two directors.

Mr Khosrowshahi, 48, is an Iran-born American who graduated from Brown University with an engineering degree. He had a stint in investment banking at Allen & Co before joining with billionaire Barry Diller at IAC during the dot-com boom. Mr Khosrowshahi led an acquisition binge in online travel, expanding IAC’s Expedia with takeovers of Orbitz and HomeAway.

He is also one of the technology industry’s most outspoken CEOs in his opposition to some of the US president Donald Trump’s policies. He spoke out against the immigration ban and mocked Mr Trump on Twitter as repeatedly failing to “rise to the expectations of his office” after the president’s response to protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Uber’s long year of controversies began in January when Mr Kalanick tried to justify his position on a Trump council before ultimately resigning that post after customers staged a boycott.

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