After a tumultuous stock debut, Uber’s Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi is parting ways with two top lieutenants in a major leadership overhaul. Barney Harford, the chief operating officer, and Rebecca Messina, the chief marketing officer, are both leaving the company, Uber said.
Uber had largely shielded Harford from the public spotlight after he was the subject of an internal review over what some employees described as racially insensitive remarks by the operating chief last year, Bloomberg writes.
The investigation was closed last 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.
Some Uber executives, particularly female leaders, bristled at working with Harford, who had a brusque management style, people familiar with the matter said. 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, Bloomberg adds.
Meghan Joyce, a senior leader in the ride-hailing group under Harford, left Uber earlier this year. 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.
In a letter to Uber staff on Friday, Harford thanked employees and outlined a few of the company’s signature accomplishments. “While I will greatly miss working with this incredible team on a day-to-day basis,” he wrote, “I’m also looking forward to being in Seattle a bit more, where my wife and two young kids are based.”
Khosrowshahi will now oversee the company’s core business, after spending much of the past two years traveling the world, meeting with government leaders and pitching prospective investors ahead of what became the biggest initial public offering on a U.S. exchange in five years. He also promoted two longtime Uber executives to help fill the void.
Uber has under-performed in its first month as a public company, as investors question its ability to someday turn a profit. In its first quarterly financial report last week, Uber posted a $1.01 billion loss. The stock closed Friday below the IPO price of $45 a share. Shares fell as much as 2.29% in extended trading after Bloomberg reported the executive departures.
“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,” Khosrowshahi wrote in an email Friday to employees. “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.”