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Uber is pushing hard to hire a CFO and top legal execs — even as others will be pushed out

New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi needs to bring a whole lot of adult supervision into the car-hailing company.

Dara Khosrowshahi smiles and gives two thumbs up on the set of a TV new program.
Whom will new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi give the thumbs up to?

Since Uber hired former Expedia exec Dara Khosrowshahi as CEO just a few weeks ago, he and its board have been intensely focused on bringing on more adult supervision to the car-hailing company.

That’s, of course, the cliched Silicon Valley formula to heal hot-headed young startups in need of course correction. Except, in the case of Uber, it’s a necessity given the paucity of top managers there after the departure and/or firings of many leaders.

The main push has been to hire top legal talent, as well as a CFO to help Khosrowshahi move the troubled company forward. Its current top lawyer, Salle Yoo — whom many internally have been critical of — has said to staff that she will be leaving the company, which has also been without a financial leader since its CFO left in 2015 and its finance head who was doing that job left in May.

Along with Khosrowshahi and its directors, Uber’s talent search is being conducted by Heidrick & Struggles, which also worked on the CEO search. Recode has seen numerous letters the recruiting firm has sent to a number of candidates for the critical job of CFO, who will play a key role in any public offering that Uber might initiate in the next two years.

One interesting name that has popped up at the top of the Uber list is former Orbitz CEO Barney Harford, who sold that travel company to then Expedia head Khosrowshahi in 2015. And, before Orbitz, Harford had worked at Expedia for eight years, including some when Khosrowshahi was CEO there.

Sources said that a number of other prominent candidates had been contacted for the CFO job, as well as to take on top legal jobs at Uber too.

Skift reported last night that another former Expedia exec, Burke Norton, was close to getting the general counsel role at Uber, although several sources said this was not accurate.

While Norton — who has most recently been chief legal officer and EVP at Salesforce — has talked to Khosrowshahi about the possibility of working at Uber in a high-ranking position, the job being discussed with him is much more expansive and one with purview over a general counsel and also other parts of the company. (Sources also added that, separately, Norton has also been in advanced job discussions with investment firms.)

Expect the search to be quick, though, since there is no question that Uber will need a lot of heftier legal help sooner than later. The Waymo trial is looming in October — Alphabet is waging a lawsuit alleging that Uber swiped valuable intellectual property from it related to self-driving technology — and there are a spate of other legal nightmares left over from the tenure of ousted CEO Travis Kalanick.

And there are many other managers needed, including a chief of its engineering unit and a head of marketing, as well as more board members, especially independent ones. Last week, a very noisy rumor whipped around the company that Khosrowshahi’s former boss, IAC bigwig Barry Diller, might be tapped as chairman of Uber. But that is also not so, said everyone I asked — even if I would really enjoy it because, well, Barry Diller.

Along with those headed in, sources tell me that there are several departures expected of some more of Uber’s top execs under Kalanick. I won't name names here as yet, but expect more of those who were more close to him to go, as Khosrowshahi puts in his own lieutenants to top slots.

“While there is a lot of great talent, it’s no surprise that there is going to be a new infusion of leadership at Uber,” said one person close to the situation. “And some of the more problematic staff just needs to be cleaned out to make way for new growth.”

Translation: Welcome to the circle of life, Uber. (Also known as: What’s the opposite of Hakuna Matata?)

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