Former Expedia big Dara Khosrowshahi will give up a pretty big stock award to run the embattled Silicon Valley unicorn; has previously dealt with gender and inclusion challenges
Meet Uber’s new boss.
After a much publicized hunt for a new chief exec, Uber’s board has finally picked a new leader in Dara Khosrowshahi. According to multiple media reports, the 48-year-old, Brown-educated Iranian-American beat out competition from the likes of eBay big Meg Whitman and former General Electric chairman Jeff Immelt to replace Travis Kalanick. The controversial Kalanick resigned earlier this summer, though he’s said to still have a base of support among the workforce.
Khosrowshahi is taking over at a challenging time. Once the wunderkind of the new economy, Uber has endured a difficult past year in which it was accused of perpetuating a culture of workplace misogyny, ripping off customers in New York City and deceiving the United States government, among other things. Competitor Lyft is chomping at Uber’s heels: in major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, the upstart already has a market share of between a third to 40% respectively, data from Second Measure show.
As the former head of one of the world’s largest travel networks, Khosrowshahi is not a complete stranger to the spotlight. Still, here are five things about Uber’s new CEO that most people don’t know.
1. Khosrowshahi was America’s highest compensated chief executive of a listed company in 2015. According to data compiled by Aquilar, the Expedia head took home $94.6 million that year, or a whooping 881% increase on the previous 12 months. Khosrowshahi received a base salary of $1 million, $2.8 million as a bonus and a one-off $90.8 million in stock options as Expedia returned 47% to shareholders that year. That said, his compensation dipped significantly in 2016, though he was still paid a respectable $2.5 million.
2. Uber is probably offering him a lot more than $90 million in stock options. That’s because Khosrowshahi didn’t get the entire $90.8 million in stock at one shot: the options vest over a period of five years. Since the Expedia chief won’t be at the helm of travel brands like Hotels.com in 2020, you can bet that the Silicon Valley firm is compensating him for the Expedia moolah he’s given up.
3. He sits on the board of the New York Times Company. Khosrowshahi was appointed to the board because the publisher of America’s third most-read newspaper wanted someone with digital expertise. The Times has engaged its fair share of battles with President Donald Trump and Khosrowshahi, whose family fled Iran after that country’s Islamic Revolution, may find that experience useful. His predecessor at Uber reportedly had a contentious phone call with the president earlier this year after Kalanick quit Trump’s now-defunct business advisory council.
4. Khosrowshahi has also had to deal with gender equality and inclusion issues at Expedia. The travel network last year released a survey of salaries to support its claim that male and female employees, on average, had pay parity. However, it acknowledged that only about a third of its senior managers were women, though 52% of its global workforce is female. “While we compare well with many of our technology peers, we have a long way to go in bringing more female representation into leadership roles,” he said at that time.
5. He’s handled crisis before. Khosrowshahi made his name as an investment banker and then top lieutenant to Barry Diller before taking over at Expedia. His ascension came shortly before the financial crisis stuck and travel spending collapsed. Khosrowshahi survived by acquiring competitors like Orbitz, though like many hospitality executives, he missed the rise of the social economy. Faced with fierce competition from AirBnB, he bought short term vacation rental platform HomeAway for $3.9 billion in late 2015.
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