Uber COO and CMO to leave in leadership shake-up


SAN FRANCISCO • After a tumultuous stock debut, Uber Technologies Inc CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is parting ways with two top lieutenants in a major leadership overhaul.

COO Barney Harford and CMO Rebecca Messina are both leaving the company, Uber said.

Uber had largely shielded Harford from the public spotlight after he was the subject of an internal review over what some employees described as racially insensitive remarks by the operating chief last year.

The investigation was closed last year and found no evidence of discrimination, the company said. Behind the scenes, Harford led much of Uber’s business, though he remained a divisive figure.

Some Uber executives, particularly female leaders, bristled at working with Harford, who had a brusque management style, people familiar with the matter said.

Rachel Holt, an influential executive, was among those who had issues with Harford’s leadership, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

Meghan Joyce, a senior leader in the ride-hailing group under Harford, left Uber earlier this year.

Andrew Macdonald — who had long operated with a high degree of independence, and who has been tapped to help oversee operations — regularly talked directly with Khosrowshahi instead of Harford, his immediate boss. Holt declined to comment.

Harford, Joyce and Macdonald did not respond to requests for comment.

In a letter to Uber staff last Friday, Harford thanked employees and outlined a few of the company’s signature accomplishments.

“While I will greatly miss working with this incredible team on a day-to-day basis, I’m also looking forward to being in Seattle a bit more, where my wife and two young kids are based.”

Khosrowshahi will now oversee the company’s core business, after spending much of the past two years travelling the world, meeting with government leaders and pitching prospective investors ahead of what became the biggest initial public offering (IPO) on a US exchange in five years.

He also promoted two longtime Uber executives to help fill the void.

Uber has under-performed in its first month as a public company, as investors question its ability to someday turn a profit.

In its first quarterly financial report recently, Uber posted a US$1.01 billion (RM4.2 billion) loss. The stock closed last Friday below the IPO price of US$45 a share.

Shares fell as much as 2.29% in extended trading after Bloomberg reported the executive departures. — Bloomberg