Uber's COO and CMO are stepping down a month after its IPO

Mae Love
June 10, 2019

In a letter to employees, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi explained the reasoning behind the departures, saying that recent organizational changes have lessened the significance of the COO and CMO positions.

Uber Technologies Inc Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford and Chief Marketing Officer Rebecca Messina are leaving the company, Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Harford previously served as CEO and board director of Orbitz Worldwide from 2009 to 2015, while Messina, Uber's first-ever chief marketing officer, joined from spirits maker Beam Suntory, before which she spent 22 years at Coca-Cola Co. The investigation was closed previous year and found no evidence of discrimination, the company said. Behind the scenes, Harford led much of Uber's business, though he remained a divisive figure. Rachel Holt, an influential executive, was among those who had issues with Harford's leadership, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters. Andrew Macdonald, who had long operated with a high degree of independence, and who has been tapped to help oversee operations, regularly talked directly with Khosrowshahi instead of Harford, his immediate boss.

Mr Holt declined to comment. Last July, The New York Times reported that several employees raised concerns about Harford's alleged racially insensitive comments.

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Khosrowshahi credited the maturing of operations at the San Francisco-based company and the completion of its initial public offering last month with enabling him to make the management moves.

Uber has under-performed in its first month as a public company, as investors question its ability to someday turn a profit. Uber shares had ended the regular session down 1.7%.

"There's never really a right time to announce departures or changes like this, but with the IPO behind us, I felt this was a good moment to simplify our (organisation) and set us up for the future", Khosrowshahi said. Khosrowshahi wrote in the email that he decided the heads of Uber's core businesses should report directly to him.

In an email to employees, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that Uber's progress now gives him the time to be more directly involved in the company's day-to-day operations. Jill Hazelbaker, senior vice president of communications and public policy, will take on oversight of the marketing department.

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