Uber confirms Dara Khosrowshahi as CEO

Dana Khosrowshahi is credited with turning Expedia, Inc. into a global travel services behemoth, winning admiration from employees on the journey.
Dana Khosrowshahi is credited with turning Expedia, Inc. into a global travel services behemoth, winning admiration from employees on the journey. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - It's official. Dara Khosrowshahi is the chief executive officer of Uber Technologies.

The ride-hailing company made the announcement late on Tuesday (Aug 29), confirming reports by Bloomberg and others, as well as comments he made to the press. The selection of Expedia's soon-to-be former CEO concludes a months-long search to replace Travis Kalanick.

Uber took Monday and much of Tuesday to finish up the negotiations and the paperwork, following a contentious yet ultimately unanimous board vote. Khosrowshahi was the dark-horse candidate, and his name didn't appear in public, while other high-profile candidates such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Meg Whitman and General Electric chairman Jeffrey Immelt were known to be in the running for the job.

Although Khosrowshahi, 48, called his new job "the opportunity of a lifetime" in an interview with Bloomberg, he's facing a long list of challenges. The company is losing hundreds of millions a quarter. It's staring down two Department of Justice investigations, one into the company's Greyball software that obscured drivers from law enforcement officials and then a second, revealed Tuesday, into bribes paid to foreign officials. Benchmark, the company's largest shareholder, is locked in a legal fight with Kalanick over the allocation of board seats. To top it off, many of the executive ranks sit empty; there's no chief financial officer, no chief marketing officer and no general counsel.

Still, as far as CEO searches go, the selection of Khosrowshahi was a fairly prompt process. Fewer than 12 weeks passed from Kalanick's June 20 resignation. Yet amid the headlines over the presumably secret search process, Uber employees were ready for it to be over, and official. The San Francisco-based company, which has been run by a 14-person executive committee, is ready for a single leader again.

With its US$69 billion valuation, the company has effectively made an enormous promise to investors that it will be a once-in-a-generation technology company. There are signs that Uber, despite its many challenges, has a path to achieve its grand ambitions. Ride-hailing and the dream of self-driving cars have already begun to transform the transportation industry. Last year, Uber generated US$20 billion in bookings (the total value of fares paid out to drivers) and that number is growing each quarter.