Technology

Expedia’s CEO steers into Uber’s top job

Hannah Edensor

Expedia’s Chief Executive Officer, Dara Khosrowshahi, has been pinned as the new boss of Uber, the NY Times reports.

The CEO of the global OTA emerged as the leading candidate from a group of three finalists over the weekend, in which Uber held board meetings to decide who was the most desirable candidate.

It comes after a turbulent period in Uber’s history, marred by ethical scandals and concerns in the business.

Khosrowshahi emerged as a frontrunner over Jeffrey R. Immelt, the former chief of General Electric, and Meg Whitman, the chief of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, per NY Times.

Immelt withdrew on Sunday, admitting he was no longer in the running, per the publication, while it was speculated Whitman could not agree on terms of her employment with Uber, thus backing out as well.

Expedia’s Chairman, Barry Diller, sent a note to all Expedia employees on the developments.

“As you probably know by now, Dara Khosrowshahi has been asked to lead Uber.  Nothing has been yet finalized, but having extensively discussed this with Dara I believe it is his intention to accept,” Diller wrote.

“I also know the struggle he has been having out of both his abiding enthusiasm for Expedia’s future as well as his loyalty to all of us.  I know Dara would like to communicate now with all of you but I’ve asked him not to until this is fully resolved.

“If Dara does leave us, it will be to my great regret but also my blessing – he’s devoted 12 great years to building this Company and if this is what he wants for his next adventure it will be with my best wishes.

“I say that because he deserves nothing less and I say that also because he will leave behind a tremendously talented corps of executives… We both will be back in touch very soon.”

The Expedia boss is an experienced CEO of a public company, and has proven his worth tackling numerous obstacles in his time at the top since starting the role in 2005.

As Skift writes, up until a few years ago, Expedia was in the deep end, with rival Booking.com running rings around them. Khosrowshahi worked to build a new global tech platform to get Expedia back on track.

Prior to Expedia, Khosrowshahi was Chief Financial Officer of IAC and then CEO of IAC Travel, with IAC the parent company of Expedia at the time.

From 1998, Khosrowshahi in partnership with Expedia’s now-Senior Executive Barry Diller, made a number of acquisitions at IAC, including the acquisition of Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, TripAdvisor, and more.

In 2015, Expedia also acquired Travelocity, Orbitz, and vacation rental giant HomeAway, among others.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly back in April, Khosrowshahi said that the acquisition of HomeAway will “see us go head to head with Airbnb on a global basis”.

He even conceded that traditional travel agents still have their place in the travel landscape.

“The human travel agent will always have a role… even in Asia 36 per cent of APAC travel is online, which means the majority of travel is booked with agents,” Khosrowshahi told Travel Weekly.

“We are pretty opportunistic on the acquisition front,” he added.

“We have come off an era of historically significant mergers and acquisitions and for the next year or two the majority of growth will be organic,” Khosrowshahi said.

Uber has been CEO-less since co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down following pressure to resign back in June. With Kalanick’s guidance, Uber was responsible for being one of the major players in the travel disruption space, offering people the ability to order drivers via an app.

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