It took Uber’s board nearly 70 days to settle on a new CEO after the resignation of its co-founder and previous CEO Travis Kalanick.
The short list of candidates included Jeff Immelt, the former CEO of General Electric, and Meg Whitman, the head of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Both tweeted they would not pursue the Uber CEO position.
Immelt pulled out of the race Sunday because of problems with Uber’s board, according to a source familiar with the matter. Whitman told the Financial Times on Monday that Uber had yet to resolve Kalanick’s future role at the company and an explosive lawsuit about it.
However, the company finally chose a CEO in Dara Khosrowshahi. Those close to the new hire say he has experience balancing strong personalities like Kalanick. This is due to his many years working with Expedia chairman Barry Diller, a media mogul.
Khosrowshahi is widely seen as a stabilizing force for the company. He told The Journal that there’s a mutual respect between him and former CEO Travis Kalanick, who’s still on the board.
He described his relationship with Kalanick as “budding.” The former CEO was among the board members’ names at the bottom of Tuesday evening’s email to Uber staff. “I’m in it to get my hands dirty and build a team and do something that people will look back on with tons of satisfaction,” Khosrowshahi told Bloomberg.
Khosrowshahi may still have sought out assurances that the board wouldn’t try to roadblock his every move. “My viewpoint is they’ve given him that mandate,” said Woody Marshall, a partner at Technology Crossover Ventures who grew up with Khosrowshahi. As Marshall put it, “You can’t have me go into a fight with one arm tied behind my back.”
Those who know him are all praises:
“Dara is the type of person that’s going to come in and institute a culture that’s going to take away some of those distractions and probably put them on a more professional business path,” Paul Holland, an Uber investor and general partner at Foundation Capital, told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Monday.
“The kind of partnerships we need in Southeast Asia are going to be easier with someone like him at the helm,” said Bradley Tusk, an Uber investor and adviser. “He encompasses a lot of the balance that we need that we weren’t getting with the other candidates.”
Uber said Khosrowshahi will “be meeting with employees around the world in smaller groups over the next few weeks, and spending time with drivers.”