SAN FRANCISCO – Freshly hired Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi met with employees on Wednesday, promising to fight for the company and hinting a stock market debut is in its future.
Khosrowshahi wore an Uber t-shirt as he was introduced to workers during an ‘all-hands’ gathering at the San Francisco headquarters, according to photos posted online.
Khosrowshahi tweeted a picture of his new Uber employee access badge, and said that it functioned as promised.
While speaking with Uber workers, Khosrowshahi shared his opinion that the private company should go public, hinting that could happen in 18 to 36 months, according to The Wall Street Journal and other US media.
Uber announced Tuesday that it hired Expedia boss Khosrowshahi as its new chief executive, hoping that he can steer the ride-sharing service away from the string of controversies it has faced in the past year.
Khosrowshahi is credited with turning Expedia into a global travel services behemoth, winning admiration from employees along the way.
He replaces Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was pressured to resign as chief of the leading smartphone-summoned ride service.
Khosrowshahi is known as an experienced top executive, willing to speak his mind and to advocate for women getting equal pay and leadership opportunities.
A possible stock market debut for Uber, the world’s most valuable private company based on funding rounds, has long been a source of speculation.
The Iranian-American has responded to IPO questions by expressing the opinion that he would like to see it as late as possible.
KALANICK COURT WIN
Kalanick was the driving force behind Uber, taking a spur-of-moment idea and turning it into the world’s most valuable venture-funded tech startup.
But his brash personality and freewheeling management style, which some argue set a problematic tone at the company, made him a liability as well as an asset to the global ridesharing giant.
He stepped down as chief executive in June due to pressure from influential investors including Benchmark Capital, which went on to file a civil lawsuit against Kalanick.
The Benchmark lawsuit filed in a Delaware court accused Kalanick of fraud, breach of contract and of plotting to manipulate the board of directors to allow him to return as CEO.
But in a legal filing, Kalanick claimed that Benchmark “began secretly planning an effort to oust him” and “executed its plan at the most shameful of times” following the death of his mother in a May accident.
Kalanick scored a victory on Wednesday when a judge granted his request to have the dispute handled in private arbitration instead of open court proceedings, according to US media reports.
The decision should prevent public airing of embarrassing testimony or evidence in the case, but could lead to a binding decision that can not be appealed as is the case with court verdicts.
Based on how much investors got for their money during recent funding rounds, Uber is valued at some $68 billion.
Some mutual funds have reportedly marked down their stakes in Uber in a sign that months of scandal were taking a toll on the private company’s value.
Khosrowshahi will face challenges including conflicts with regulators and taxi operators, a cut-throat company culture, and board members feuding with investors over Kalanick.
© Agence France-Presse
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