Over the weekend the Uber board made its pick for a new chief executive, offering the role to current Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The Iranian American executive has yet to publicly confirm that he has accepted the role but is widely expected to this week.
Khosrowshahi will replace founder Travis Kalanick after months of infighting at the beleaguered Silicon Valley company.
Kalanick is currently taking an indefinite leave of absence after a raft of controversies including a wide-ranging sexual harassment scandal following a damaging blog post from ex-engineer Susan Fowler, both of which have hit the $7 billion-valued ridesharing startup.
The Uber board’s decision to appoint former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was something of a surprise, with names like HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki some of the floated options.
Listen: The UK Tech Weekly Podcast discuss Khosrowshahi's appointment as Uber CEO
So who is Khosrowshahi and who are the winners and losers from his appointment?
Loser: Travis Kalanick
It is widely expected that Kalanick is plotting an eventual return to the company that he built into the behemoth it is today, and the appointment of an ally like Arianna Huffington or his apparent preference in Jeffrey Immelt would help his cause.
Instead, by appointing Khosrowshahi the board has picked a long-term CEO and a safe pair of hands. Khosrowshahi will have to decide pretty early how he wants to work with Kalanick, whose shadow looms large over the company.
Winner: Dara Khosrowshahi
It may be stating the obvious, but what an appointment for Dara Khosrowshahi. He may already be one of the highest earning CEOs in tech but at Uber he gets to join one of the highest profile tech companies in the world with a tonne of challenges but also huge upside.
The very fact that he is taking the job suggests a man not afraid of a challenge. He will have to ingratiate himself with staff and the board quickly but clearly did something right during the recruitment process and comes with a solid reputation from his time at Expedia.
His biggest task will be to restore Uber’s reputation after a historically bad news year for the company, all while holding Uber’s market leading position against tough competition and non-stop legal issues.
Khosrowshahi comes with a sound track record in terms of corporate culture, with a 93 percent CEO approval rating on popular job site Glassdoor.
Winner: Benchmark Capital
The venture capital firm Benchmark Capital is one of the biggest investors in Uber and is currently suing Travis Kalanick for fraud, alleging that an expansion of the board handed him more control over the company.
According to Recode Benchmark favoured Whitman while Kalanick preferred Immelt and neither got their wish. Instead the board appointed a neutral choice between the warring factions.
The ex-Expedia boss might well be wary of Benchmark following the ousting of Kalanick, and is likely to want to avoid becoming embroiled in the power struggle between the two.
There is good reason that Arianna Huffington, Meg Whitman, Susan Wojcicki and even Marissa Mayer were all named as potential candidates for the job.
Beyond the fact that they are all high-profile CEOs of massive tech companies, installing a female CEO could have jump-started a much-needed diversity drive at the company following a raft of scandals under the stewardship of tech bro Travis Kalanick.
This isn’t to say that Khosrowshahi isn’t right for the job because he’s a man, but it just doesn’t quite have the same optics as hiring a female CEO. He will have to work twice as hard to prove that he is doing something about the issue.
Winner: Didi Chuxing
Like Uber, Expedia has already exited the Chinese market due to aggressive local competitors, selling a stake in long term partner eLong in 2015. In 2016 Khosrowshahi acknowledged that competing in the domestic market there was "price destructive" in an interview with Phocuswright.
Uber merged with its Chinese rival Didi Chuxing earlier this year, all but giving up on the domestic ride-hailing market there in the process.
Any fears that a land war would be revived under aggressive new leadership will be allayed for Didi following the appointment of Khosrowshahi.
Loser: Donald Trump
The US president is already short of allies in the technology industry and he has now gone from a one-time associate in Kalanick to a vocal opponent in Khosrowshahi.
Expedia was among the first tech companies to denounce Trump’s executive order on immigration, blocking visits to the US for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Khosrowshahi's Twitter feed is also a reliable source of criticism for the US President.
Amidst an ongoing lawsuit regarding the theft of self-driving car technology with Google, Uber is getting a CEO that has plenty of battle scars from taking on the internet giant from his time at Expedia.
Expedia is one of the companies that made a formal complaint which led to the European Commission hitting Google with a historic £2.1 billion fine in an antitrust ruling. Expedia's complaint related to accusations of Google promoting its own travel products over Expedia's.