That someone is Dara Khosrowshahi, currently CEO of the online travel company Expedia. Uber’s board selected Khosrowshahi on Sunday, reportedly as a compromise choice over Hewitt Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and GE board chairman Jeff Immelt.
While it’s unclear when Khosrowshahi will assume the new role (Reuters reports he’ll accept the offer), he’ll have his work cut out for him when he takes the helm. Among the most pressing tasks: hiring a bevy of senior staff, including a chief financial officer.
Uber has burned through eye-popping amounts of cash to fuel its rapid expansion, and now desperately needs to stem those losses and get its finances under control.
The biggest issue for Uber is how to generate enough cash to fund internal investments. Evan Rawley, Columbia Business School professor
“The biggest issue for Uber is how to generate enough cash to fund internal investments,” Evan Rawley, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and an expert on corporate strategy and entrepreneurship, told HuffPost in an email earlier this year. “If they have to go back to the capital markets with so much red ink flowing, the current investors will take a huge haircut on their investment.”
“Uber doesn’t need a visionary anymore,” Rawley said. “They need a capable pair of hands to steer the ship through some known challenges.”
At the same time, Khosrowshahi will have to handle several other significant challenges, including fixing Uber’s toxic, sexist culture, increasing the company’s abysmal driver retention rates (only 4 percent of them last more than a year), navigating a potentially devastating lawsuit over allegedly stolen technology secrets from a rival, and pacifying Uber’s board, which is beset by infighting.
The first thing you’ve got to do is clean up the culture. And that means putting the right people in place. Jeff Reid, McDonough School of Business professor
Jeff Reid, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the founding director of the school’s entrepreneurship initiative, told HuffPost earlier this year Uber’s new CEO should start by hiring good people to fill numerous top-level vacancies (see below).
“I think the first thing you’ve got to do is clean up the culture. And that means putting the right people in place,” Reid said. The right management team, and accompanying management systems, will signal to employees, customers and Uber drivers “that things are truly going to change,” he said.
Uber needs “people with great integrity and the right gravitas,” he said.