Uber tapped ex-Orbitz boss Barney Harford to be its new COO

UberUber COO Barney Harford.

Uber appointed ex-Orbitz boss Barney Harford as its new chief operating officer on Wednesday, adding a trusted pair of hands to new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s top ranks as he moves to revamp the scandal-plagued startup.

Harford previously worked under Khosrowshahi at Expedia.

“I have never met a stronger operator or a more thoughtful strategist than Barney,” Khosrowshahi said in a memo to Uber employees on Wednesday.

Harford, who has been advising Uber since October, will report to Khosrowshahi and be responsible for global operations, marketing, and customer support for both the ridesharing business and the food delivery business, UberEats.

The appointment comes after a rollercoaster year for Uber that saw the San Francisco headquartered company under the spotlight for scandal after scandal. The controversies caused a significant turnover in Uber’s senior management team, including the departure of Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick from the CEO job.

Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia, joined Uber in August and has been methodically filling vacant roles at the company and charting a new course.

Harford, who is also on the board of United Airlines, will step into the role of COO in January.

Here is the email Khosrowshahi sent to Uber staff on Wednesday:

Team –

I’m happy to announce that Barney Harford will be joining Uber as Chief Operating Officer, starting January 2.

Barney is the former CEO of Orbitz. He has deep experience building and managing two-sided marketplaces and has served as an advisor to Uber since October, so you may have already seen him around. He’s spent the last few months learning how Uber works and developing perspectives on how it can work even better in the future, so he’ll hit the ground running in January.

I have never met a stronger operator or a more thoughtful strategist than Barney. He is able to go deep on key aspects of a business while never losing sight of the big strategic picture. He loves engaging with operations, marketing, product, and engineering teams around hard problems, and is passionate about using technology to transform the world.

Barney came to the US from the UK in 1999 to work at Expedia when it was still part of Microsoft. We worked together after I joined as Expedia as CEO, and he was leading the company’s push into Asia. In 2009 he joined Orbitz and went on to turn that company into such a success that I just had to acquire it!

Barney will continue to serve on the boards of United Airlines and RealSelf, where he is chairman.

Barney enjoys skiing, surfing, and photography, and loves classical music. He and his wife Beth Birnbaum have two kids.

Please join me in welcoming Barney to the team!

Dara

In other Uber news, Bill Gurley, one of Uber’s earliest investors, talked to Business Insider about why he’s still bullish on the company despite the skeletons in the closet.

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