Uber’s board has finally voted on a new CEO after more than two months of lawsuits and knife fights in the press. And it’s an unexpected candidate from a company that appears to have few, if any, of Uber’s problems.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of travel booking service Expedia since 2005, was reportedly selected on Sunday as the next person to run Uber. Khosrowshahi, an Iranian-American who fled Iran as a child in the 1970s, is widely reported to be the “truce candidate” between the warring factions of Uber’s remaining leadership.
He comes to Uber after a successful 12-year run at Expedia in which the company went public and consistently grew its revenue (and stock price) through the financial crisis and after.
But improving the nuts and bolts of Uber’s business and getting the ride-hailing behemoth closer to an IPO will only be half of Khosrowshahi’s job. Uber’s corporate culture is what got his predecessor fired, and it continues to ail the company, reflected in the messy lawsuit against Google’s self-driving unit Waymo, resignations linked to sexual misconduct, and an overwhelmingly male staff headcount.
At Expedia, Khosrowshahi was able to eliminate the gender pay gap between male and female staffers, make women 51 percent of the workforce, and increase representation of women in leadership roles to 33 percent, according to 2015 figures. Presently, Uber is about 36 percent female, women occupy 22 percent of leadership roles, and reportedly closed its employee gender gap during this summer.
Another pain point for Kalanick and Uber earlier this year was its perceived closeness to the Trump administration, as Kalanick himself resigned from a Trump advisory board after public protest. Though Khosrowshahi has yet to a run a company as dependent on friendly relationships with the federal government as Uber, he has been highly critical of Donald Trump and his policy agenda.
Prior to Khosrowshahi being selected, the CEO fight had come down to two candidates: former General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, the favorite of ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, the preferred candidate of Matt Cohler of Benchmark Capital, Kalanick’s primary rival on the Uber board.
With neither Whitman or Immelt garnering the support necessary to move forward, Khosrowshahi got the official nod.
Representatives for Uber, Expedia, and Travis Kalanick did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Recode reports that Khosrowshahi is expected to meet with Uber staff at an all-hands meeting on Monday.