Dara Khosrowshahi has become one of the world’s most influential technology executives by spending more than a decade thinking about how people get around. It’s fitting, then, that The New Yorker’s vivid profile of the former Expedia CEO and current Uber chief follows him all over the world from India to Pittsburgh to a small island in the Puget Sound.
Khosrowshahi’s task, steering Uber from a scandal-entrenched startup to mature and stable company, requires him to be constantly on the go. He is making amends with foreign governments, attempting to remake Uber’s image, and overseeing new projects in an effort to secure more stable revenue for the company.
Last summer, Khosrowshahi inherited Uber after its former CEO, Travis Kalanick, was pushed out amid a series of scandals. Khosrowshahi found himself apologizing for a data breach coverup, deliberate attempts to evade law enforcement, rider safety issues, sexual harassment claims, and other controversies.
In a wide-ranging profile, The New Yorker explores the series of events that led to Khosrowshahi’s surprise hire and the challenges he faces down the road. Continue reading for five key takeaways from the story, which will be published in the magazine’s April issue and is online here.
As CEO of Expedia, Khosrowshahi was denied a visa to India. He assumed it had to do with his Iranian heritage. At the helm of Uber, he was granted access to the country.
Pre-Khosrowshahi, Uber was basically “Animal House.” That’s how a compliance consultant described the company depicted by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s report on Uber. Holder was hired to investigate sexual harassment and cultural issues at the company.
Khosrowshahi is driven by childhood struggle. His family fled their home country during the Iranian Revolution and endured hardships as they tried to build a life in the U.S. “There’s this chip you have on your shoulder as an immigrant that drives you,” Khosrowshahi said in his first address to Uber employees.
Khosrowshahi’s mentor tried to talk him out of taking the Uber gig. “You must be out of your mind,” said Barry Diller, the titan of industry who groomed Khosrowshahi when they discussed the opportunity at Uber. Diller told Khosrowshahi the company was “a very dangerous place.”
When he took the job, Khosrowshahi considered shutting down Uber’s self-driving car operation. He was concerned about the billions of dollars the program could cost, but Eric Meyhofer, the head of the division in Pittsburgh, changed Khosrowshahi’s mind. Meyhofer believes autonomous vehicles could finally solve Uber’s revenue problem. The company subsidizes rides to keep prices low and remain competitive, resulting in big losses.