Dara Khosrowshahi has been confirmed as Uber’s new chief executive, a position that has sat vacant since June.
The former chief executive of Expedia, which he ran for over 10 years, is set to meet staff at Uber for the first time today.
— Uber (@Uber) August 30, 2017
In an interview with Bloomberg, the new leader of the startup, said:
Are there difficulties? Are there complexities? Are there challenges? Absolutely, but that’s also what makes it fun. I am not in this to coast. I’m in it to get my hands dirty and build a team and do something that people will look back on with tonnes of satisfaction.
He also reportedly told Expedia’s staff that he was “scared” about taking on the new role.
That might be an understatement.
This is an estimation of what Khosrowshahi’s to-do list is going to look like when he steps up to the top job.
1. Sort out Uber’s shady practices
It was revealed earlier today that Uber is being investigated by the US Department of Justice.
The DoJ is looking in whether managers at the startup breached the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, namely bribing foreign officials.
At the moment, the department says they are just taking “preliminary steps” and Uber says it is fully cooperating.
In addition, it’s not clear what countries are at the centre of the investigation or if it is merely one.
The DoJ already has another investigation into Uber, over reports it was ‘greyballing’. This involves using a special tool to evade regulators and law enforcement officials around the country.
That’s two headaches to deal with on the first day in a new job.
2. Deal with rampant sexism
Uber has had a difficult year that eventually culminated in the departure of its founder and former chief executive, Travis Kalanick. This was kicked off by a blog post by an ex-Uber engineer revealing the sexual harassment she faced whilst at the company.
The startup hired a former US attorney general, Eric Holder, to conduct a review of the claims made by Susan Fowler.
Uber’s board accepted the investigation led by Holder, which came out in June. The decision contributed to the company fired 20 employees after receiving more than 215 complaints about sexual harassment and other bad behaviours.
All eyes will be on Khosrowshahi to ensure this doesn’t happen again at the company.
3. Try and get it unbanned across the world
As part of the startup’s drive to spread as fast as possible around the world, it has run into a few mishaps. It has been forced to leave or withdraw from many places such as China, Denmark, and Spain.
This week, it was allowed back into the Philippines after paying nearly $10m in fines and compensations. Regulators had banned the app after violating an order to stop accepting new driver applications.
Khosrowshahi can certainly work on making sure Uber doesn’t violate any more regulatory orders, which should prevent it from being banned across the world.
4. The self-driving lawsuit with Waymo
As well, the company is currently being sued by Alphabet’s self-driving subsidiary Waymo for allegedly stealing its autonomous driving tech.
Uber’s head of self-driving technologies, Anthony Levandowski, was working at Waymo before he left to set up his own self-driving trucking startup, Otto.
Allegedly, Levandowski downloaded information about Waymo’s projects and had supposedly told Kalanick that he had the technology when Uber acquired Otto last year.
Uber has since fired Levandowski and the court battle continues.
5. Get the company IPO ready
Khosrowshahi will want some positive things to focus on. Earlier this year, there were rumours that the company would soon go public, though it might need to clean up its image.
Rob Kniaz, founding partner at early-stage venture firm Hoxton Ventures, told Verdict:
There’s an inevitability that a company like this with a high valuation needs to public and get liquidity for the big investors. My money would be on an IPO in 12 months.
All jokes aside, it will be interesting to see the next moves Uber makes with Khosrowshahi at the wheel. It is an interesting and dynamic company, the most valued startup in the world no less.
It’s going to take a while to clean up some of the company culture but that doesn’t mean Uber won’t succeed under a new direction.
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