Dara Khosrowshahi, reportedly named to head Uber, has led Expedia for 12 years, during which the Bellevue-based online travel company has gobbled up competitors and emerged as one of the top two companies in the industry.

Share story

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been named the top executive at ride-hailing company Uber, according to news reports citing people briefed on the matter, although the reports haven’t been confirmed yet by Uber or Expedia.

Khosrowshahi has led Expedia for 12 years, during which the Bellevue-based online travel company has gobbled up competitors and emerged as one of the top two companies in the industry. It acquired fellow travel-booking site Orbitz for $1.6 billion in February 2015, and bought vacation-home rental company HomeAway for $3.9 billion in November of that year.

The company has largely flourished under Khosrowshahi’s leadership. Expedia’s stock price has grown about 600 percent with the executive at the helm. In its second-quarter earnings results last month, the company reported a revenue increase of more than 17 percent to $2.59 billion.

Expedia Chairman Barry Diller issued a statement Monday morning saying nothing had been finalized by Uber, but he had been in contact with Khosrowshahi and expected him to accept the Uber job.

“If Dara does leave us, it will be to my great regret but also my blessing – he’s devoted 12 great years to building this company and if this is what he wants for his next adventure it will be with my best wishes,” Diller said.

He added that Expedia — which is planning a headquarters move to Seattle’s waterfront in 2019, leaving its Bellevue home to make more space for its expanding head count — will be left with a “tremendously talented” group of executives.

Expedia did not comment past Diller’s statement and it is unclear who could take over Khosrowshahi’s role there.

Investors were concerned by Khosrowshahi’s apparent exit, however, with Expedia stock falling as much as 5.4 percent Monday, the biggest intraday drop since June 2016, Bloomberg reported.

Uber may need to pay Khosrowshahi a hefty salary as CEO. Khosrowshahi was the highest-paid public-company CEO in the U.S. in 2015, with a pay package of $94.6 million, according to executive-pay research firm Equilar. Almost $91 million of that was in stock options that vested in phases by 2022 but was entered into the books in 2015. Last year Khosrowshahi had total compensation of $2.4 million.

Tech executives rushed to congratulate Khosrowshahi on his new job, even before the news was confirmed by Uber or Expedia. Zillow CEO and former Expedia executive Spencer Rascoff tweeted the news saying, “A fantastic choice IMO.”

Khosrowshahi’s cousin Hadi Partovi, the CEO of Seattle nonprofit Code.org and an angel investor in Uber, said in an email that he “couldn’t be more pleased for my investment.”

“Dara is an amazing tech leader and experienced in international travel,” Partovi said. “As an Iranian American, I’m proud about today’s news, especially in contrast to the demonization of Iranians by the government.”

Both Partovi and Khosrowshahi immigrated to the U.S. from Iran with their respective families when they were young, and both have been outspoken against the Trump administration’s travel bans targeting people from majority-Muslim nations.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had faced criticism after being name to President Donald Trump’s advisory council of business leaders — a role he quit in February — as well as for Uber’s internal culture, which many say discriminates against women and groups that are underrepresented in tech.

Khosrowshahi swiftly and sharply criticized Trump’s first attempt at a travel ban in January, writing in a memo at the time that “The President’s order represents the worst of his proclivity toward rash action versus thoughtfulness. Ours is a nation of immigrants. These are our roots, this is our soul. All erased with the stroke of a pen.”

Khosrowshahi and his family immigrated to the U.S. as refugees in 1978, around the time of the Iranian Revolution. He went on to attend Brown University and to serve as an executive at IAC before joining Expedia in the top job in 2005.

Khosrowshahi continued in recent months to speak out against the administration, tweeting a New York Times article on August 15 in response to Trump’s controversial remarks on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia

“I keep waiting for the moment when our Prez will rise to the expectations of his office and he fails, repeatedly,” Khosrowshahi tweeted.

The executive has also encouraged more diversity within tech’s ranks, an issue Uber has repeatedly struggled with.

Expedia released some findings of an internal study last year that showed female employees were paid equally to men at the company. But the company also acknowledged it had more work to do — at the time, 51 percent of its U.S. workforce was female but only one-third of its leadership positions were held by women. Khosrowshahi released a statement with the study, calling for the company to continue “enriching” the diversity of its workforce.

Major internal challenges await Khosrowshahi at Uber, not to mention the job of repairing the company’s reputation, which has been damaged by reports of sexism and executive misconduct.

Khosrowshahi may have his own conflicts — he is an investor in booming Seattle startup Convoy, which connects truck drivers with freight that needs hauling. It is a competitor of Uber division Uber Freight.

But he’s far from the only investor to find both companies attractive — Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, who doesn’t have an active executive role in the company but is on Uber’s board, also has invested in Convoy.