Uber’s pick for CEO doesn’t come cheap.
In 2015, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was the highest-paid CEO in the S&P 500, according to a report compiled by Equilar and the Associated Press. His compensation totaled $94.6 million, including a $1 million salary, $2.8 million bonus, and $90.8 million in stock options.
Khosrowshahi is known for revitalizing and expanding Expedia’s business as CEO, solidifying its position as a giant in the travel industry. His experience, combined with Expedia’s generous compensation, means Uber will likely have to craft a hefty financial package to poach Khosrowshahi.
Uber does have an advantage over Expedia as a privately held company. The ride-hailing giant’s shares have the potential to be more valuable in an IPO or acquisition. Earlier this month, Uber investor Benchmark said the company could be “comfortably” worth more than $100 billion in the next couple years. Uber is currently worth more than $60 billion.
The $90.8 million stock award was promised in a 2015 employment agreement that granted Khosrowshahi the $1 million base salary and an annual discretionary bonus, plus stock options that would vest over time, contingent on his continued employment with Expedia.
The contract includes an award of $1.6 million in stock options that would vest 50 percent in three years and the remaining half would vest five years from the agreement, for example. Another $1.1 million in stock options was contingent on Khosrowshahi’s continued employment and Expedia’s share price rising to $170 by 2020. Bloomberg Technology estimates that Khosrowshahi’s unvested stock options at Expedia are worth about $184 million.
Khosrowshahi’s move to Uber hasn’t been publicly confirmed and it isn’t clear exactly how much unvested stock he would be leaving on the table at Expedia. But Bloomberg claims that between replacement awards and Uber’s precarious position, it would cost at least $200 million to lure Khosrowshahi away from Expedia.
The news of Uber’s selection came as a surprise Sunday evening. It was first reported by the New York Times and Recode, citing anonymous people familiar with the decision by Uber’s board. If he takes the gig, Khosrowshahi will be responsible for making over Uber’s reputation and navigating the fallout from a series of scandals under Travis Kalanick, the previous Uber CEO.
Khosrowshahi has been at the helm of Expedia for 12 years, leading the Bellevue, Wash.-based travel giant through a series of acquisitions, including Travelocity, Trivago, Orbitz, and HomeAway.