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Uber gets a new man on the steering wheel!

Updated Sep 13, 2017 12:03pm
Can Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi help the company overcome its myriad technological and public scandals?

Uber, the American online transportation company, has been in the news for a variety of reasons including being a leader in the new sharing economy powered by the internet. The company has made great strides in the ride-sharing business along with promising strides in the food delivery and even autonomous vehicles categories.

However, the company and its longstanding CEO, Travis Kalanick, have been at the centre of many controversies; including a workplace culture investigation and sexual harassment scandal that led to Kalanick resigning and a major shakeup at the company.

After a high-profile search during which a number of prominent names were tossed as possible successors, Uber announced on August 29, that Dara Khosrowshahi, an Iranian-American who was serving as the CEO of the online travel giant Expedia, would be Uber’s new CEO. The decision had been held back as Khosrowshahi took his time in making the decision to jump ship and was incessantly wooed by Uber’s Board of Directors, investment principals and company founders (including Kalanick).

During his tenure at Expedia, Khosrowshahi has been credited with expanding the business and the brand portfolio phenomenally, establishing Expedia’s leadership in one of the most contested online business categories. As CEO, Khosrowshahi expanded Expedia’s business to 60 countries around the world and built successful product extensions with brands such as Hotwire (car rentals), TripAdvisor (tour bookings and reviews) and (hotel booking search engine). In 2015 he was reportedly awarded $90 million in stock options and his contract as CEO was extended to 2020.

Coming to Uber will be quite the challenge for Khosrowshahi. The company has a valuation of $70 billion and has a number of promising growth opportunities.

Apart from his track record, Khosrowshahi boasts longstanding business pedigree. He was born in Iran to a family that ran a very successful financial services conglomerate. The nationalisation of their business forced the family to move from Iran in the wake of the Iranian revolution. The move took Khosrowshahi to Brown University and on to a successful career that will now see him lead Uber to new roads.

Coming to Uber will be quite the challenge for Khosrowshahi. The company has a valuation of $70 billion and has a number of promising growth opportunities that requires the kind of strategic vision that help product teams see through the present chaos and regulatory challenges (particularly in areas such as autonomous driving and ride sharing safety), and deliver opportunities that can be capitalised to fuel future growth.

No wonder then, Khosrowshahi, who is a man of few words commented: “I have to tell you that I am scared,” when he was asked about taking on the mantle of CEO at Uber.

Tariq Ziad Khan is a US-based marketer and a former member of Aurora’s editorial team.