Aug 28, 2017 - Technology

Meet Uber's newly chosen CEO

Dara Khosrowshahi in 2012 at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference (AP's Paul Sakuma)

On Sunday night, Uber's board of directors finally chose its next CEO: Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia's chief executive. The Uber CEO job has been vacant since late Junem when co-founder Travis Kalanick stepped down after being pressured by a group of investors.

Why it matters: At $70 billion, Uber is the most valuable private company in the world. It's also a global business that's facing a multitude of challenges, including ongoing losses, an ugly trade secret theft lawsuit, an aggressive culture that has created an environment of sexual harassment and discrimination, and a strained relationship with drivers, among other things. Hopefully, Khosrowshahi's combination of dealmaking and management skills will help him navigate the above, along with managing a rambunctious board of directors (with one member currently suing another), and of course, working with Kalanick.

Business: Khosrowshahi has been CEO of Expedia since it spun out of IAC/Interactive Corp 12 years ago. In the 1990s, he worked as an investment banker for Allen & Co. and IAC's Barry Diller was one of his clients. In 1998, he joined Diller at IAC.

  • In 1999, IAC attempted to acquire Travelscape. However, Khosrowshahi's tough negotiator tendencies lost him the deal: after he attempted to cut $30 million from the price, Travelscape's founders walked away.
  • But he's learned from the episode. At the helm of Expedia, he oversaw the company's acquisitions of several competitors, including Orbitz, Travelocity, and most recently HomeAway for which it paid $3.9 billion (the deal almost didn't happen).
  • In 2015, he was the highest paid U.S. CEO, raking in $94.6 million, though the compensation package was part of a multi-year contract he signed at the time.
  • He's a transportation technology enthusiast: He personally invested in Seattle-based Convoy, which makes tools for the trucking business, and was excited about taking a ride in a Google self-driving car a couple of years ago. (The latter is suing his new employer, so that's bound to be interesting.)
  • He's on the board of Fanatics (which just raised funding from SoftBank) and The New York Times Co.
  • Khosrowshahi already has one link to Uber: Expedia founder Rich Barton is a venture partner at Benchmark, an early Uber investor that's currently suing Kalanick. Read Axios's interview with him.

Politics: Khosrowshahi has been a vocal critic of Trump and his administration. Along with Amazon and Microsoft, Expedia filed a lawsuit in January against Trump's ban on travel from certain Middle Eastern countries. Read his email to employees.

  • One notable exception are his donations in 2015 to Utah Sen. Mike Lee—but that's likely due to Lee's calls for antitrust investigations into Google, one of Expedia's rivals and an "existential threat" to the company.

Personal: Born in Iran in 1969, Khosrowshahi and his family fled to New York in 1978 following the revolution. In high school, he was class president and played lacrosse. He went on to earn a degree in electrical engineering from Brown University but took on a career on Wall Street after falling in love with a woman in New York.

  • Khosrowshahi has four children—two teenagers (and girl and a boy) from his first marriage and young twin boys from his second. He married his current wife, Sydney, in Vegas while wearing jeans.
  • He's a fan of Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft.
  • He's the second cousin of brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi, early investors in Facebook and founders of His cousin, Hassan Khosrowhshai, founded Canadian electronics company Future Shop, which sold to Best Buy for $580 million in 2001.
  • Khosrowshahi's family in Iran was entrepreneurial: his father's family founded in 1953 Tolid Daru, a pharmaceuticals manufacturing company.
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