Uber has had their fair share of press, both good and bad.
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SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s king may be deposed, but his power endures.
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick certainly has his share of detractors, but fans will take comfort in knowing he was integral to landing the company’s new chief executive.
In audio leaked to Yahoo News of an all-hands meeting Wednesday that introduced outgoing Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to the ride-hailing company’s team, Kalanick is heard offering a quiet introduction to his 48-year-old successor.
But Kalanick’s critical role in the selection becomes clear when Khosrowshahi, who initially was not interested in the Uber post, describes how his mind ultimately was changed by the power of Kalanick’s pitch.
While Khosrowshahi’s initial rejection of a Uber headhunter’s overtures was reversed by a conversation with Spotify founder Daniel Ek, the turnaround “really started with Travis, because everything starts with Travis,” Khosrowshahi says, going on to make a joke about Kalanick’s obsession with the clarity and security of FaceTime Audio calls.
“And he just spun this web, this dream of transforming cities and the transportation grid, and delivery and robots taking food from streetcorners to homes,” he says. “And I thought, ‘Well, I sell airline tickets, and you can download them on your phone, it’s awesome!’ So, I realized, I’ve got to think about this.”
Khosrowshahi’s many humorous asides aside, the revelation that Kalanick played such a big part of luring him to Uber offers insights into the state of the company’s political machinations.
Kalanick was pushed by leading Uber investors Benchmark Capital to resign in June, not long after Kalanick’s mother died in a boating accident. Benchmark then sued Kalanick on the grounds that his decisions jeopardized the firm’s investment in Uber. Benchmark began lobbying for its candidate for CEO,HPE chief executive Meg Whitman, according to Recode, who abruptly pulled her name from contention.
In the course of conducting its CEO search, which also reeled in GE chairman Jeff Immelt, the question of just how much a new leader would have to contend with Kalanick was always hanging in the balance.
Although Kalanick’s sharp-elbowed leadership was seen by many as the root of Uber’s recent problems, the CEO always had a core fan base both among…