By on August 28, 2017

Uber At Igby's In Cincy Circa April 2014

Uber Technologies has chosen Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi to run the global ride-hailing firm now that ex-CEO Travis Kalanick has been twice ousted from his executive role. While Uber confirmed it has named a replacement, it declined to make specific reference to Khosrowshahi, saying the board would inform employees first. Likewise, Expedia has not yet confirmed that its current CEO is leaving.

Hoping to distance itself from numerous scandals, Uber has vowed to end what many have called an unsavory corporate culture. As the company’s co-founder, Kalanick enjoyed sweeping authority on the board and has been frequently blamed for its misdeeds — primarily due to his encouraging of an unstructured, dog-eat-dog mentality among the staff. This may have something to do with the surprise choice of Khosrowshahi. As a former Iranian refugee, he is extremely critical of the Trump administration’s travel ban and has received praise in the media for his progressive politics. 

On the night of Trump’s electoral win, Khosrowshahi tweeted, “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.” Expedia later joined Amazon in supporting a lawsuit that would stop the immigration ban in January of this year.

Reuters and The New York Times both reported that Dara was not considered to be the front-runner for the job. General Electric’s Jeff Immelt and Hewlett Packard’s Meg Whitman were also both under consideration, with Khosrowshahi as the dark horse. It’s believed his successes with Expedia and corporate image may have been the deciding factor for the ride-hailing service.

By contrast, Kalanick’s tarnished imaged seemed unsalvageable by the time of his June withdrawal. In addition to personal gaffes, he was condemned for allowing Uber drivers to continue picking up passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport after the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called for a strike at the location to oppose the travel ban. However, much of the media seems to have forgotten that Uber employees are private contractors and that the former Uber CEO ultimately abandoned Trump’s Advisory Council.

Still, Khosrowshahi is better for business. Being openly critical of the president isn’t necessarily relevant to how he might run the company in the day-to-day, but it does gives something for the board to point to as part of its promise for change. But the CEO would serve as more than just a figurehead. His experience in battling Google could prove invaluable in Uber’s perpetual tug-of-war with Waymo. He also appears to be about as business savvy as they come.

Under his leadership, Expedia more than doubled its annual revenue between 2012 and 2016 ($8.8 billion). The company reported a net income of $281.8 million last year and made Khosrowshahi the highest-paid CEO in the United States in 2015. During his tenure, the travel site expanded by buying companies in similar businesses, including Trivago, Travelocity, and Orbitz. Khosrowshahi also sits on several boards, including one at The New York Times.

Uber also grew into a massive global business under Kalanick. But this year’s scandals and significant financial losses forced him out of the equation permanently.

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7 Comments on “Uber’s New CEO Choice Should Improve the Brand’s Tarnished Image...”

  • avatar

    No amount of reshuffling at the top will change that the foundation of the company is the conviction that rules are for suckers, and they’re too special to follow them.

    • 0 avatar

      Rules are for suckers. And for those with asymmetric armament pointed at their heads by those who prefer their underlings being relegated to suckerdom. At least the millions of pages of drivel that Moses and his Boss decided were not worth enumerating, are.

  • avatar

    “he was condemned for allowing Uber drivers to continue picking up passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport after the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called for a strike at the location to oppose the travel ban.”

    No, that’s not how it went down. The complaints were not that Uber failed to boycott JFK, it was how Uber did not let “surge pricing” take effect during the strike. This both annoyed the people who supported the taxi drivers, and annoyed Uber drivers themselves, who did not get to collect the higher fares that would normally be levied in that situation.

    • 0 avatar

      That does point to the most fundamental weakness on Ubers’s business plan: Drivers will just run apps in parallel, and pick up rides for whomever pay the highest. Which, when combined with hailers seeking out the lowest fare on, will leave precious little for Kalanick’s overpriced middle man.

      Of course, now armed with a CEO/frontman more acceptable to the various juntas running our progressive dystopia; no doubt regulations and bans, for “the good of the people,” and “the system,” will be employed. To prevent such market efficiencies from simultaneously allowing hailers to save some money, and people who actually work for a living, to make some.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Sounds promising.

    For this fellow to succeed, he has to be ruthless in weeding out those who promote the ongoing shenanigans at Uber, both internally and customer-facing.

    Integrity and reputation are easily lost, and slowly recovered. At the end of the day, customer trust and loyalty are the only assets Uber has.

  • avatar

    “As a former Iranian refugee, he is extremely critical of the Trump administration’s travel ban and has received praise in the media for his progressive politics. ”


    How does this “improve” Uber’s branding?

    All the polls I’ve seen show a sold majority support the travel ban.

    I would say taking a vocal side in politics is bad branding for any company on either side of the aisle.

    • 0 avatar

      “All the polls I’ve seen show a sold majority support the travel ban.”

      Not amongst those buying Uber paper.

      You have to remember, Uber is in the business of selling paper. That’s what they “make” their money from. That other thing they do, is just a headfake employed to keep the hype alive, so they can sell another round of paper.

      And those first in line, or more like the only ones in line, to receive the ever greater amounts of fresh print emanating from the Fed so they can buy more paper with it, are overwhelmingly progressives.

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