Expedia Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi speaks publicly for the first time since being picked to lead Uber Technologies.

Share story

Dara Khosrowshahi acknowledged some of the myriad challenges he’ll face as chief executive officer of Uber Technologies but described the job as the “opportunity of a lifetime.”

Speaking publicly Tuesday for the first time since getting picked to run Uber, the departing Expedia CEO suggested he intends to tackle allegations of sexual discrimination and systemic cultural issues at the ride-hailing giant.

Uber confirmed the choice late Tuesday in a statement bearing the names of departed CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, co-founder Garrett Camp and other board members and executives.

Khosrowshahi, in an interview at Expedia’s headquarters in Bellevue, called Uber “a company that is redefining the transportation industry on a global basis; to be part of that story is something that is interesting and would be a real privilege.” 

He added: “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 tons of satisfaction.”

Khosrowshahi was chosen by Uber’s board Sunday to replace Kalanick, who resigned as CEO on June 20. The San Francisco-based company has been through an exhausting 2017 so far, with a string of self-inflicted scandals.

At the end of a contentious CEO search, Khosrowshahi emerged as the dark horse, beating out better-known candidates, such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Meg Whitman and General Electric’s Jeffrey Immelt.

There’s still a bumpy road ahead at Uber. Khosrowshahi will need to hire several top executives, including a chief financial officer. The company also plans to appoint an independent chairman. Two board members — Uber’s co-founder and the company’s largest shareholder — are engaged in a courtroom fight. Venture-capital firm Benchmark is accusing Kalanick of fraud and asking him to turn over the three board seats that he controls. Kalanick called the suit “a fabrication.”

And while Uber is on an encouraging growth trajectory, it lost $645 million on $1.75 billion in revenue in the second quarter. The company is looking to bring in additional capital from investors including SoftBank Group, a move that should buy time before an initial public offering.

Taking the company public was in the new CEO’s job description, and Khosrowshahi suggested he’ll be ready for the green light. “At some point, I expect the company to be public, but that’s up to the board,” he said.

Although Expedia has a better track record than most tech companies in terms of hiring women, he said the industry could do more. “It’s definitely a problem inside the technology industry — not just gender discrimination. Diversity is an issue within technology, within Expedia,” he said. “You look at the problem and solve it one step at a time. You solve it by first recognizing it and then working it. It requires real candor and real honesty.”

Khosrowshahi said he didn’t go out searching for a new job. “This is not something I was looking for,” he said. “I love Expedia. I was fully intending to stay here. And this was an extraordinary opportunity that even made me look up for a second.”

Expedia’s stock has fallen 3.5 percent since news of Khosrowshahi’s expected departure. “I view daily, short-term stock volatility as really about sentiment,” he said. He expects a replacement CEO “sooner rather than later.”

Change in privacy policy; bribery probe

Uber will end a controversial policy of tracking some riders for five minutes after their trip ends, the ride-hailing company said Tuesday as it tries to repair its privacy reputation.

Uber was criticized by users and privacy advocates when it announced last year that it would collect location data from riders through its app from the time the trip was requested through five minutes after it ended. Uber said it was doing so “to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety.”

Users who didn’t want to be tracked after their ride ended could opt out by turning off the app’s location services. But that required users to manually enter their pickup location.

Uber is “rolling back the decision to collect post-trip location for all riders,” spokeswoman Melanie Ensign said.

The app’s settings currently allow users to choose between “never” allowing the app to collect location information and “always” allowing it to collect that information anytime the app is running, even if it’s in the background. The “always” option will soon change to specify that data collection will stop once a trip ends or is canceled, Uber said.

Separately, the company said Tuesday that it’s cooperating with U.S. investigators looking into whether employees violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on reports that it is targeting possible violations of laws against overseas bribery. Uber didn’t disclose where the alleged violation occurred.