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3 Reasons Uber’s New CEO Can Help

August 28, 2017, 3:20 PM UTC

This article first appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. Sign up here.

A horrible hurricane named Harvey messed with Texas this weekend. Our hopes and prayers are with the good souls there caught in nature’s wrath.

Turbulence of a commercial nature elsewhere might be passing, according to multiple reports that the Uber board has settled on Expedia’s (EXPE) Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO. Those same reports earlier on Sunday pegged HPE’s (HPE) Meg Whitman as the likely choice, and there remains the matter of Khosrowshahi negotiating and accepting an offer to join the troubled company.

Some notable things about the presumed CEO-to-be:

  1. He can keep a secret. His name appeared on no one’s list of candidates. If not the most popular choice of all the board, he seems to bring with him the potential for unifying the company behind him and the board above him.
  2. Khosrowshahi is an ex-banker (Allen & Co.), a grownup (he’s 48), and grounded in the making-money-matters ethos of media titan Barry Diller, for whom he has worked for years. (Diller controls Expedia.) As well, and this is a subtle but important point, as part of the Seattle/old Internet world, Khosrowshahi comes from outside Silicon Valley and its strangely entitled ways. In other words, he can walk the digital walk, but he’s not part of the oddly constricting mentality that makes it hard for denizens of Silicon Valley to communicate with real people.
  3. He is well connected. In addition to being on the board of The New York Times, whose reporters have done some of the finest reporting of late on Uber, Khosrowshahi is on the board of Fanatics, the sports apparel retailer that recently attracted an investment from SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son. SoftBank reportedly wants to become an investor in Uber too. If so, the new CEO has Son’s number.


After I wrote about Fortune’s blockchain coverage last week a reader scolded me thusly:

“Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who ‘doesn’t get it.’ We’ve seen this movie before in the dot-com days. I wonder how many people were involved then. If they were they would probably be following a ‘maximal exploitation’ strategy before it all gets blown to smithereens. It also feels like the kickstarter ‘revolution’ or the holacracy movement: an innovation in social (monetary) constructs that is very attractive to techies. By the way, those movements eventually succumbed to the laws of social gravity and came back down to earth.”

My response: “True. And we also got Google, Amazon, Facebook and so on.”

Incidentally, the always astute Andy Kessler has a trenchant takedown of cryptocurrencies in Monday’s Wall Street Journal. Read it carefully, though, and you’ll see that Kessler sees more promise in the blockchain than in Bitcoin.


When I was a senior in college I attended an inspiring conference at West Point called the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs, which paired political science majors with cadets in the hopes of building future civilian-military relationships. A speaker at that conference was Jack Rosenthal, editor of the editorial pages at The New York Times. I introduced myself and told Rosenthal I wanted to be a journalist, and he advised me to pick a specialty and stick with it. Eventually I took his advice. Rosenthal died last week. I’m grateful I met him, and I honor his memory.