The long search is over for Uber’s chief operating officer. Former Orbitz CEO Barney Harford has formally accepted the position today.
In early March, former CEO Travis Kalanick disclosed he would be searching for someone to fill the position amidst allegations he had fostered a culture of sexism and achievement at any cost. The company continued to suffer a number of setbacks in the months following, including Kalanick’s resignation, a lawsuit from Alphabet’s self-driving car company Waymo and a Department of Justice investigation.
In June, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling, recommended major management changes, advocating for a COO who would “act as a full partner” and run “day-to-day operations.”
Harford, who also sits on airline company United’s board, had been working in an advisor capacity at Uber since October, spending the last few months learning how Uber works and how to improve operations.
However, this is not the first time he’s worked with Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Harford, who took on the role of CEO at Orbitz in 2009, later sold the company to Expedia in 2015 for $1.6 billion. Khosrowshahi was the CEO of Expedia. Harford was Expedia company president for Asia Pacific from 2004-2006.
Harford will now report directly to Khosrowshahi in the new role, making him the second highest-ranking exec at Uber.
However, the new appointment is a surprise. Khosrowshahi reportedly told employees when he took on the new role in September that he might not pick a new COO — later determining this role would be critical as Uber looks to stave off company losses, which grew to $1.5 billion last quarter.
According to the company, Harford will be responsible for “global operations, marketing and customer support for both the ridesharing business as well as Uber Eats.”
That’s one key exec in for Khosrowshahi, but Uber is still on the hunt for a chief financial officer to help shore up losses and turn the company profitable enough for a potential IPO in 2019.