Dara Khosrowshahi – Taking the wheel

Interesting to read about Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, story; in particular as his memo to Expedia employees was a masterclass in leadership with emotional intelligence:

“ I have to tell you I am scared. I’ve been here at Expedia for so long that I’ve forgotten what life is like outside this place. But the times of greatest learning for me have been when I’ve been through big changes, or taken on new roles–you have to move out of your comfort zone and develop muscles that you didn’t know you had.”


Unsurprisingly, he plays the role of flatterer, diplomat, negotiator, and salesman, selected by Uber’s board in part because of his personality: agreeable, unthreatening, comfortable with the kind of corporate talk that investors find reassuring. All qualities required as Uber plans to go public in 2019 and grow to between 20 and 30 times its current size. If he meets certain objectives, including taking the company public in 2019 at a valuation of a 120 billion dollars, he is set to make 120 million dollars.

Wow not bad for someone who showed vulnerability and therefore emotional intelligence when joining the firm.

Arianna Huffington, the only woman on Uber’s board, was the one announcing he was chosen (amongst Jeffrey Immelt, a former C.E.O. of General Electric, and Meg Whitman, the C.E.O. of Hewlett-Packard, both celebrity chief executives)

Darren K. (after he got tired of hearing people mispronounce his name) often speaks of his experience finding asylum in America after his family fled Iran, in 1978:

“There’s this chip you have on your shoulder as an immigrant that drives you.”

One of his first acts as C.E.O. was to create a new list of cultural values. No. 4 now reads

“We Do the Right Thing. Period.”



And here’s the man himself on Masters of Scale podcast, talking with Reid Hoffman about the most extreme pirate-to-navy transition in startup history (early-stage startups are a lot like pirate ships – they need a buccaneering spirit to survive. But every startup needs to evolve into something more akin to a navy – no less heroic, but more disciplined).