After two months of infighting, Uber’s board offered Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi the Uber chief executive role — a role Khosrowshahi accepted just hours later, a source told Yahoo Finance.
The news came as a surprise to many, given numerous news reports pegged two other CEO candidates — GE chairman Jeff Immelt and Hewlett Packard Enterprises CEO Meg Whitman — as front runners. Remarkably, Khosrowshahi’s name remained a well-kept secret during the two months of discussions and deliberations among Uber’s board members.
But of the three candidates, Khosrowshahi, 48, may well be the best suited to steer Uber in the months and years ahead. During his 12 years as Expedia’s chief executive, he grew the business from $2.1 billion in annual revenues on $15 billion in gross bookings in 2005 to $8.7 billion in annual revenues on $72.4 billion in gross bookings in 2016. Khosrowshahi also led the acquisitions of the $1.3 billion merger with rival travel business Orbitz in 2015, as well as the $3.9 billion purchase of HomeAway that same year.
All in all, Expedia’s stock more than tripled during his tenure. That was a boon for shareholders, but also for Khosrowshahi, who received a total compensation of $94.6 million in 2015, according to a report compiled by Equilar and AP — $91 million of which came from a stock award scheduled to vest over the next five-and-a-half years.
Prior to Expedia (EXP), Khosrowshahi served as CEO of IAC Travel and chief financial officer of IAC (IAC), which also owns the popular dating sites and apps Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid and Plenty of Fish. Khosrowshahi is also a board member for The New York Times Company, BET, Hotels.com, among others.
As a child, the Iran-born businessman emigrated to Tarrytown, New York with his family — an experience that clearly left an impression. To wit, Khosrowshahi, who attended Brown University, became one of the first tech CEOs to file a legal challenge to President Trump’s travel ban in January, citing the potential harm it could do to the company’s employees and customers.
In early February, Khosrowshahi concluded Expedia’s quarterly earnings call on a dramatic note.
“Hopefully we will all be alive to see the end of next year,” he said in a thinly-veiled reference to Trump’s presidency.
Khosrowshahi also has also used social media to weigh in, both on Trump’s surprising win last November and his decisions that followed:
As tech leaders we have to admit that we are hugely disconnected with our nation. I don’t like it but have to recognize this issue.
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) November 9, 2016
I keep waiting for the moment when our Prez will rise to the expectations of his office and he fails, repeatedly. https://t.co/WlxTkRfC71
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) August 16, 2017
With Uber, Khosrowshahi inherits an embattled company rocked by months of scandal involving sexual harassment in the workplace and questionable workplace practices. A legal battle with self-driving company Waymo, spun out by Google (GOOG, GOOGL) in late 2016, also looms large.
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