Embattled Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi opened his mouth and promptly put his foot in his mouth in an interview with Axios Monday.
And Wall Street analysts who cover Uber (UBER) and various market veterans tell Yahoo Finance they aren’t even sure why Khosrowshahi — who is developing a rep as someone who never declines an on-camera interview — is doing interviews at all right now. The state of the company is so messed up, the financials so bad, the stock price so ridiculously weak post-IPO that the Wall Street community thinks Khosrowshahi should be rolling up his sleeves to focus 110% on driving Uber to more prosperous days, instead of getting powdered for the camera.
“It’s a jaw dropper. If you look at Dara right now, the last thing on Earth as an investor you want him, the board and the company to be focused on is getting into a political firestorm on the Saudi Arabia situation,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “It just speaks to that since the IPO, Uber continues to trip over its own shoelaces.”
Uber and Khosrowshahi are taking on major heat this week in light of his interview with Axios, where he made misguided comments on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Uber declined to comment.
“I think that government said that they made a mistake,” Khosrowshahi said in the interview. “It’s a serious mistake. We’ve made mistakes too, right? With self-driving, and we stopped driving and we’re recovering from that mistake. I think that people make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they have taken it seriously.”
Khosrowshahi quickly backtracked, calling up one of the interviewers to clarify his comments. He then tweeted the below statement to a Twitter universe that exploded with a #BoycottUber hashtag.
There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” As I told @danprimack after our interview, I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios https://t.co/RxapzktrXq— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) November 11, 2019
But all in, many on Wall Street think this type of bad public misstep by Khosrowshahi — along with a propensity to not communicate too well with the sell-side — raises questions on if he is the right person for the top job.
Analyst Ives isn’t 100% sold that Khosrowshahi — who has overseen a talent exodus at Uber, a crashing stock price and several God awful public company quarters — will survive another year as CEO.
“It all comes down to execution. Patience is wearing thin among investors. A lot of the turnover they have had in the executive front, it’s all on his shoulders,” Ives said. “Thus far what you have seen is investors voting against that in terms of what they have seen. But you look at this week and this sort of noise, I think it just adds to the black clouds surrounding Uber.”