Uber's board made a somewhat surprising decision Sunday to appoint Expedia chief Dara Khosrowshahi to the open CEO role at the company, settling two months of unrest at the company and setting aside rumors that ousted CEO Travis Kalanick was going to retake the helm at the company. As the New York Times reports, Khosrowshahi became the frontrunner after former General Electric CEO took himself out of the running Sunday morning.*
BuzzFeed suggests that there was ample board support for hiring Meg Whitman, despite the fact that Whitman had denied she was in the running for the job last month though she was apparently the favored candidate by Benchmark Capital, the board seat holder who is currently suing Kalanick for fraud, and a few other things.
As the Times puts it, "How much of an impact Mr. Khosrowshahi can have on Uber is uncertain. The company still bears the imprint of Mr. Kalanick, who is on Uber’s board." Khosrowshahi also happens to be on the board of the New York Times Company, and he has served as Expedia CEO for 12 years.
Apparently Kalanick may have maintained some influence on the decision, with BuzzFeed reporting that "a person close to him [said] that Uber’s cofounder did not trust [Meg Whitman] and viewed her as being deceptive about her intentions."
As the Washington Post notes of Khosrowshahi, who is Iranian-American, he is "well liked and respected" within Silicon Valley after presiding over "a huge expansion of [Expedia] to over 60 countries," and he's "also a vocal critic of President Trump, particularly his travel ban against Muslim Americans."
Also, per the Post:
People who know him said Khosrowshahi brings two assets to Uber. For one, he is considered even-keeled and low-key -- a sharp contrast to Uber's former chief executive and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who has been known to fly into fits of anger...
Khosrowshahi’s other asset is his skill as a dealmaker in the highly competitive market for online travel.
It remains to be seen how Kalanick may continue to exert influence in his role as board member of Uber, and the Benchmark lawsuit is challenging a shareholder vote last year that gave Kalanick control over two additional, currently unfilled board seats.
* Correction: An earlier version of this story listed Immelt as General Motors CEO, when in fact he was the CEO of General Electric.