But facing pressure from Uber investors, chiefly venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, Kalanick resigned as CEO, but only after reappointing himself to the board of directors. Now Benchmark Capital is suing to have him removed from the board.
If Khosrowshahi is going to take over as Uber CEO, he needs some assurances that he can effectively manage the company in the midst of all this legal turmoil, that Kalanick won't try to arbitrarily to force him out so he can take over and that his role as CEO won't be complicated by legal challenges from one investor group or another.
Some of those concessions will require negotiation, which is likely why there has been a delay between the board’s vote and any announcement.
For Uber’s sake, one can only hope that the board is able to finalize Khosrowshahi's appointment. By all accounts, he’s exactly what Uber needs if the company is going to recover from the chaos that has challenged it. Perhaps most important, Khosrowshahi has demonstrated that he’s a calm, thoughtful leader who gets results.
Under his leadership, Expedia has grown globally, it’s been profitable for Khosrowshahi’s entire run as CEO and it has made a number of strategic corporate acquisitions. He’s also shown that he can manage a company where women make up 50 percent of the workforce and receive pay that is equal to male employees, according to Expedia’s report on its gender balance.
Notably, Expedia hasn't been hit with the complaints of sexual harassment or gender discrimination that made headlines at Uber, although women at Expedia trail men in terms of leadership positions and technical roles.
In other words, Uber’s board has apparently found adult supervision for a company that sorely needs it. Now the challenge is for Uber to find a way to make the job attractive enough for Khosrowshahi to agree to take it and stay long enough to turn the company around. This is a tall order.
If he does accept Uber’s offer, Khosrowshahi will face a formidable task. He will have to stamp out the “bro” culture that has infected Uber since its founding and he will have to make a diverse, gender neutral workplace a reality. He also needs to calm the roiled waters of regulation by demonstrating that the new Uber will work with local and regional governments instead of trying to work around them.
In addition, Khosrowshahi will have to get the company on an even keel so that it can compete against market rivals that have been emboldened by Uber’s dysfunction, including Lyft and other ride hailing services as well as traditional taxi companies that are introducing their own apps to win riders. He will also have to find a way to get Ubers finances in line, even if it means abandoning autonomous vehicles.
It’s going to be a tough assignment, but all indications are that if anyone can do it, Khosrowshahi can.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to on Aug. 29 with Khosrowshahi's comment to the Wall Street Journal that he plans to accept Uber's offer to appoint him the ride-sharing company's new CEO.