Barney Harford has been appointed as the Chief Operating Officer of Uber. Harford will be second-in-command to the company’s relatively new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi. Harford will be officially joining Uber beginning January 2. He has been serving as an advisor at Uber since October.
Prior to Uber, Harford served as the CEO of the online travel service Orbitz Worldwide Inc from 2009 to 2015. Additionally, he serves on the board of United Airlines and RealSelf. At some point, Harford was a competitor of Khosrowshahi; during Harford’s tenure at Orbitz, Khosrowshahi was working as the CEO of Expedia Inc. In February 2015, Expedia announced its intention to acquire Orbitz for $1.3 Billion, which also gave an opportunity for these two CEO’s to work together.
“Dara and I were both super competitive,” Harford told Bloomberg. “Through all that, we remained good friends. That’s just business. That’s just competition. We compete aggressively, but we compete in the right way.”
In a tweet, Khosrowshahi said, “Business Santa arrived with an early gift for Uber,” in reference to his pick of Harford as the new COO.
The year 2017 has proven quite turbulent for Uber, with a string of scandals which led to the departure of many executives. To add to it, there were sexual harassment allegations, data privacy violations, and a lawsuit alleging trade-secrets. There is also a criminal probe which involves possible bribes which were paid overseas, and also a scheme to avoid regulators.
CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has his plate full dealing with all this. He is under a lot of pressure to establish a leadership team which is capable of changing the toxic and rule-breaking corporate culture. Uber’s board of director has reached an agreement to take the company public in 2019, which suggests that the company is also looking for a Chief Financial officer who can make that happen. The ride hailing service also needs a head of engineering, and there are quite a number of openings for managers to handle regional operations.