Uber Hires European Kees Koolen As COO, To Help It Scale Globally

Car service dispatch company Uber has hired a European Chief Operating Officer, making the announcement today at LeWeb London.  Kees Koolen, who scaled booking.com to $9 billion in revenue during his tenure, will now be “the number two” in the company, next to CEO Travis Kalanick.  Koolen, who is from Amsterdam, will be based half of the time out of Uber HQ in San Francisco and half the time will be traversing the globe spearheading the startup’s international expansion.

The company currently has offices in London and Paris. Will Amsterdam be next for the lifestyle-focused personal transportation startup?

“Why would you hire a European to be a COO?” asked professional rabble rouser and Uber investor Michael Arrington, incredulous.

Kalanick said that the hire would primarily focus on European expansion, as the company faces fierce competition from competitors Hailo, GetTaxi and MyTaxi, who have already established extensive networks in many European capitals.

“The world is not just about Silicon Valley,” Uber co-founder Kalanick asserted a global vision for Uber, just five days after the company launched in London in time for the London Olympics.

The company’s history is quite intertwined with the LeWeb conference: Uber Paris launched during Paris Le Web just last December and Uber as a whole came into existence as part of a conversation between founders Kalanick and Garrett Camp during LeWeb 2008.