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Spotify CEO recommended Dara Khosrowshahi for Uber CEO role

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent
Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apparently owes Spotify Daniel Ek for recommending him to Uber’s board for consideration.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek recommended Dara Khosrowshahi for the Uber CEO role, according to audio exclusively obtained by Yahoo Finance of Uber’s all-hands meeting on Wednesday.

Khosrowshahi, for his part, explained how the Uber CEO role came his way, after he had cocktails with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek at an investors conference. Ek told Khosrowshahi that he had recommended Khosroshahi for the Uber CEO role, Khosrowshahi told Uber employees.

“Daniel Ek looks at me and says, ‘Dara, do you want to be happy? Or do you want to change the world?’” Khosrowshahi explained during the all-hands. “So the next day, I called the head hunter back.”

The 48-year-old Iranian American, who previously served 12 years as chief executive of Expedia (EXP), also admitted he didn’t think he would be a shoo-in.

“I’ll tell you, a week ago I did not think I was going to get the job, so this is pretty freakin’ cool, based on everything I read,” Khosrowshahi added.

Khosrowshahi was referring to the flurry of recent media reports indicating that two other Uber front-runners — GE chairman Jeff Immelt and Hewlett Packard Enterprises CEO Meg Whitman — could end up snagging Uber’s CEO role instead.

But of the three candidates, Khosrowshahi may well be the best suited to steer Uber in the months and years ahead. During his 12 years as Expedia’s chief executive, he grew the business from $2.1 billion in annual revenues on $15 billion in gross bookings in 2005 to $8.7 billion in annual revenues on $72.4 billion in gross bookings in 2016. Khosrowshahi also led the acquisitions of the $1.3 billion merger with rival travel business Orbitz in 2015, as well as the $3.9 billion purchase of HomeAway that same year. All in all, Expedia’s stock more than tripled during his tenure.

So Khosrowshahi’s track record gives every indication he could steer Uber in the proper direction following months of scandal and controversy.

And if things don’t work out?

Quipped Khosrowshahi: “I wrote him [Ek] an email saying this is all going to be blamed on you if this is a failure.”

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  

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