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Uber has hired former Orbitz CEO Barney Harford as its first-ever COO

Harford and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi worked closely together at Expedia.

Uber HQ Justin Sullivan / Getty

Uber is filling another key role in its executive ranks just as the year turns. The ride-hail company has hired former Orbitz CEO Barney Harford to be its first-ever chief operating officer.

Harford, who has been learning the ropes at Uber as an adviser since October, worked closely with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Expedia. Before becoming CEO of Orbitz — which Expedia later acquired — Harford led Expedia’s push into Asia while Khosrowshahi was CEO. He begin his official work as COO on Jan. 2.

His appointment comes as Uber embarks on an important year. Coming off a year wracked with public scandal, Khosrowshahi is under a great deal of pressure to turn the company around in 2018. Adding to that, the long-time travel executive has his sights set on taking the company public in 2019.

Harford joins a growing C-suite. In October, Khosrowshahi appointed former Pepsi executive Tony West to be Uber’s chief legal officer. The next priority for the company is to fill the CFO role.

“I have never met a stronger operator or a more thoughtful strategist than Barney,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “He is able to go deep on key aspects of a business while never losing sight of the big strategic picture. He loves engaging with operations, marketing, product, and engineering teams around hard problems, and is passionate about using technology to transform the world.”

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