If Uber’s New CEO Is ‘Scared,’ Then We All Should Be

By Luke Moats - Published on September 12, 2017
Luke Moats

Luke Moats | I was born and raised in a suburb North of Dallas, Texas, where I learned the joys of storytelling and writing the truth. At heart, I'm just a big nerd who aspires for a Star Trek-esque utopia where all human differences can be solved by communication, and there is little to no violence. I believe the truth is the finest commodity that one can w...

If Uber’s New CEO Is ‘Scared,’ Then We All Should Be

Uber’s CEO is in the news again, but in a twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan, it’s a new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, and he’s scared! At least, that’s what he said in a letter sent to staff members of his previous employer, Expedia, where Khosrowshahi was the CEO for over ten years.

“I have to tell you, I am scared,” he said.

But who would blame him? On the surface, it appears he has become the captain of a sinking ship. There have been corporate rape data scandals, corruption allegations, and nearly every other possible scandal in the book has plagued the company in recent quarters.

He had this to say in an email announcing his appointment as Uber’s CEO to his former Expedia coworkers:

Team Expedia:

It’s with truly mixed feelings that I am writing this note to you today. The Uber board has offered me, and I am accepting, the CEO role for that company. This has been one of the toughest decisions of my life. I’ve had the privilege to run Expedia for 12+ years now, and most of you who have been on this journey with me know that it has not all been easy going. We’ve had to fight through multiple technology re-platformings, supplier margin and competitive pressures, worldwide financial meltdowns, enormous integrations, building our global muscles, and a hugely competitive talent and travel marketplace. But we have put our heads down together and pushed and worked and innovated and have built a truly great company and had more than our fair share of fun along the way.

I have to tell you that I’m scared. I’ve been here at Expedia for so long that I’ve forgotten what life is outside of this place. But the times of greatest learning for me have been when I’ve been through big changes, or taken on new roles – you have to move out of your comfort zone and develop muscles that you didn’t know you had. I always tell people to look for a role where they, as an individual, can make a difference, at a company that is making a difference. I know I can look back at my work at Expedia and say mission accomplished. And I can look forward to Uber and know that I will make a difference, hopefully for the better.

The last thing I wanted to leave you with is some heartfelt thank yous:

Thank you to Barry Diller who has been, and, if I’m lucky, will continue to be, my mentor for 20+ years. I still remember him pouring through Excel models that I built as a young investment banker – going through every line to make sure that I knew what I was talking about. He still does the same nowadays, just less often ;-). He has been the toughest, smartest, most demanding, and most human boss I’ve ever had. I would have never ever been close to having the opportunity ahead of me without Barry in my life.

Thank you to my team here at the TLT. I consider you friends for life and I leave Expedia confident, knowing that you are the best team in the business. This is your company now, and I’m confident you’ll take it to new heights and territories and products that will continue to shape the travel ecosystem. Of course, I know you’ll do it along with a little bit of the Worm, crazy pool parties, synchronized dances, awesome award ceremonies, weird Korean Elvis-looking impersonators, and the imagination and the fun that you bring every day to make this place as special as it is.

Thank you to Cindy for dealing with a complicated, demanding, screwed up, ever-changing up-to-the-very-last minute schedule/work/life pirouette that she performed with the grace of a Prima Ballerina and the grit of a Navy SEAL. Brandon tried to design a machine learning algorithm to automate some of her simpler task work and it almost brought down AWS US West.

Thank you to my wife, Syd. While we try to make this a balanced place to work, the CEO job can take a toll on family – Syd is my rock, my best friend, and I just couldn’t do what I do without her. AND, she’s signing up for an entirely new ride into the unknown …

And finally, thank YOU. These have simply been the best years of my life, both professionally and personally. I’ll never forget them, and I’ll never forget the place and the people I grew up with.

Time for a new journey, I mean, ride …

– Dara

Luke Moats

Luke Moats | I was born and raised in a suburb North of Dallas, Texas, where I learned the joys of storytelling and writing the truth. At heart, I'm just a big ...

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