Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has announced that chief operating officer Barney Harfordand chief marketing officer Rebecca Messina are both departing the company. In a Friday email to employees, Khosrowshahi said, “over the years, I’ve learned that at every critical milestone, it’s important to step back and think about how best to organize for the future. Given that we’re a month past the IPO, now is one of those times.”
The executives are stepping down almost a month after Uber went public in the biggest tech IPO in years. The actual IPO was viewed by many as a disappointment, but Uber has been trading above its stock price as of this week.
Harford was named COO in December 2017, with Uber receiving criticism for the choice after it was initially believed Uber’s board was seeking a female executive to fill that role. Harford has reportedly been the subject of numerous complaints from employees over insensitive racial comments he made during a meeting. According to The New York Times, Uber employees have claimed he has made similar disparaging comments about women and minorities at other times during his tenure at the company.
But Khosrowshahi is sending Harford off with an appreciative note in the staff email. “Barney is a talented businessperson, and I can’t thank Barney enough for all of his contributions in helping us get to and through the IPO,” he wrote. “On a personal level, I’ve appreciated his strategic mind, analytical chops, and unflagging passion and efforts for our mission.” The reason for Harford’s stepping down is an apparent consensus that “the COO role no longer makes sense” at Uber. Harford and Khosrowshahi’s relationship dates back a decade to when the two were competing against each other as the CEOs of Orbitz and Expedia, respectively.
“I now have the ability to be even more involved in the day-to-day operations of our biggest businesses, the core platform of Rides and Eats, and have decided they should report directly to me,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “This will allow me to be more hands on and help our leaders problem-solve in real time, while also ensuring that we make our platform vision a reality.”
Andrew Macdonald, a senior Uber executive hired by Travis Kalanick, will now lead Uber’s global rides business and report directly to Khosrowshahi.
Rebecca Messina, a longtime beverage industry executive before coming to Uber, is leaving the company less than a year after being hired as chief marketing officer as a result of Uber consolidating its policy, communications, and marketing teams into one division led by Jill Hazelbaker. “Since joining Uber nearly four years ago, Jill has been instrumental in addressing some of our toughest challenges as a company. She’s an excellent team builder and always committed to doing what’s best for Uber.”