Uber has finally appointed a new chief executive, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, which is good news for the company but galling for the two unsuccessful candidates embroiled in months of speculation and board-level political drama.
They were former GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who announced his withdrawal from the process via Twitter on Sunday, and Meg Whitman, CEO of HP Enterprise and former CEO of Ebay.
Whitman’s rejection will be especially painful, given she publicly withdrew from Uber’s CEO search in July but then quietly re-entered the fray late on Friday according to a New York Times report.
Whitman, who gave media interviews on Monday, said Uber’s board approached her again over the weekend as a possible candidate.
“They asked what it would take for me to change my mind,” she told The Financial Times. “I was not a contender for this job until the weekend — and I’m not even sure I was then.”
Whitman had been floated as a possible successor to ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in mid-June. Press speculation continued until she wrote on Twitter in July that she was “not going anywhere.”
“Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman,” she wrote.
That left Immelt and then-unnamed candidate Khosrowshahi.
But then the board approached Whitman again, and she was apparently the front-runner after Immelt dropped out.
But she reportedly had a list of demands conditional to her becoming Uber’s next chief. These including reducing what remains of Kalanick’s control over the firm, and settling an acrimonious lawsuit between Uber board member Benchmark Capital and Kalanick.
According to Whitman’s version of events, that was too much to ask.
“I said Benchmark and Travis needed to settle their lawsuits and the board needed to put in place a functioning governance structure,” she told The New York Times.
She added that while it had seemed Kalanick and Uber’s other directors “seemed eager to take those steps”, the board was “still too fractured to make progress” on her demands.
Late on Sunday, Uber had chosen Khosrowshahi as Kalanick’s successor.