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Expedia chief a costly choice for top Uber job

Uber has gotten rave reviews for its new CEO pick — but it may have to pay through the nose to get him.

The scandal-ridden ride-hailing company has offered its top job to Expedia Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who has won praise for turning around the travel site with his dealmaking prowess and willingness to tackle thorny problems at their root.

That could come in handy as Uber battles a slew of scandals it suffered under former CEO Travis Kalanick, ranging from sex-harassment suits to accusations from Google that it stole trade secrets on self-driving cars.

However, 48-year-old Khosrowshahi also happens to be one of the most lavishly paid CEOs in America. In 2015, he earned nearly $95 million in compensation including stock options, making him the highest-paid CEO in the S&P 500 that year.

Although Khosrowshahi earned just a sliver of that last year — $2.5 million — he’s been slated for yet another fat payout in the next few years on the condition that Expedia’s stock continues to rise.

That’s because he has signed a long-term employment agreement with Expedia that doesn’t expire until 2020 — and which includes 3 million stock options that could be worth as much as $184 million if he stays at Expedia, according to Bloomberg.

“It’s definitely a hurdle” for the negotiations between Uber and the travel executive, said Jefferies analyst Brent Thill.

“He stands to lose a lot, which leads me to believe that Uber is making him quite an offering,” adds Morningstar analyst Dan Wasiolek.

The Iranian-born exec had not yet accepted the job as of Monday afternoon, having reportedly beat out Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman and General Electric Chairman Jeff Immelt.

But if Khosrowshahi manages to extract a hefty compensation package from Uber — which said last week it lost $645 million in a single quarter, whittling at a cash pile that now stands at $6.6 billion — analysts say he might be worth it.

During his tenure, the online travel company’s share price had soared sixfold and its market cap expanded by $18 billion. Khosrowshahi grew revenues to $8.8 billion last year from $2.1 billion in 2005 when he took the helm — and without the drama that ousted Kalanick from the company he co-founded in 2009.

“Expedia is one of the best-performing travel stocks year to date,” said Jefferies analyst Brent Thill, adding that in Khosrowshahi, Uber is “getting a grownup who understands corporate culture.”

While Uber was rocked by scandal this year, Khosrowshahi was enjoying a 93 percent approval rating from Expedia employees, who also rated it among the 100 best places to work, according to Glassdoor.com, a job and recruiting site.

If Khosrowshahi accepts the job, he’ll have his work cut out for him, including snatching back market share that rival Lyft has taken since Uber imploded.

“Lyft has made deep inroads during this difficult time,” said Jim Fowler, chief executive of Owler.com, a database of company and executive information similar to Linkedin. “Dara could give Uber time to heal.”

Source: http://nypost.com/2017/08/28/expedia-chief-a-costly-choice-for-top-uber-job/

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