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Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has mastered a different part of the travel economy — but Uber is a different beast

Who exactly is Dara Khosrowshahi?

The new CEO of Uber has spent a decade mastering a different part of the travel economy. But Uber is a different beast.

The selection of 48-year-old Dara Khosrowshahi to oversee the $70 billion company is an enormous challenge for an executive who has no background in transportation.

Khosrowshahi has led Expedia, the travel-booking site, since 2005, to be “one of the largest online travel companies in the world,” according to the company. Expedia has ridden the explosion in online travel bookings that have displaced traditional travel agents working out of brick-and-mortar offices across America.

But Expedia has also had to confront a new class of upstart companies that offer new travel services, like Airbnb, and to distinguish itself from other similar travel bookers, like Kayak.

Born in Iran, Khosrowshahi graduated from Brown University in 1991 and spent seven years at the investment bank Allen & Company followed by another seven years at IAC, originally the parent company of Expedia.

Khosrowshahi is leaving a hefty salary, though he is likely to command top dollar at Uber as well: In 2016, Khosrowshahi made $2.45 million, according to FactSet. The year prior, he made a bumper salary $94.6 million for entering into a long-term employment agreement with Expedia — the agreement had his term expiring in 2020.

Khosrowshahi does not appear to have spent significant time before in Silicon Valley, nor does he have much obvious connection to Uber.

He has, however, shown some affinity for on-demand transportation: Khosrowshahi, according to PitchBook, is a personal investor in Convoy, a company that has been described as “Uber for trucking,” and that could be an attractive acquisition for the ride-hailing giant down the line.

Khosrowshahi also sits on two corporate boards: The New York Times and Fanatics, the sports retailer that just accepted a mammoth investment from the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. SoftBank is in talks to possibly obtain a substantial ownership position in Uber — and Khosrowshahi’s loyalties will be watched closely.

Another tea leaf: Khosrowshahi has displayed some fascination with autonomous vehicles, a research priority of his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

Publicly, Khosrowshahi‏ has been also critical of U.S. President Donald Trump, and his company joined early efforts to challenge the president’s executive order targeting Muslim refugees and immigrants. Himself an immigrant, he once ended a company earnings call with a direct shot at the White House: “Hopefully we will all be alive to see the end of next year.”

Otherwise, Khosrowshahi‏ is a politically active donor who’s written checks to candidates to Democrats and Republicans alike. He supported Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a donation last year.

Tony Romm and Rani Molla contributed reporting.


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