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Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi thinks he has controlled his famously fractious board of directors

Also, some thoughts from the CEO about Uber moving into the grocery business.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty

A little more than a year after Uber’s board of directors busted into acrimony, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is feeling pretty good about how things are going in the boardroom.

That’s important since it has been one of the $70 billion company’s highest priorities headed into an initial public offering next year. No one wants to back a public company that is in the middle of a gunfight.

“Where we came from last year was not neccessarily a board but an investor group that was struggling for control of the company,” he said onstage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The company’s board was “fundamentally misaligned.” But now, he pledges, “those days are behind us.”

One of Khosrowshahi’s first accomplishments was a grand-bargain deal that restructured the company’s governance and disempowered some early power players like former CEO Travis Kalanick and Benchmark (who were in the middle of a lawsuit). Khosrowshahi on Tuesday was visibly amused by repeated questions about Kalanick’s lingering influence — including one about whether he is concerned that Kalanick could try and engineer a comeback to the CEO seat after next year’s IPO.

“I don’t worry about that,” he said to some nervous laughter from the audience, before turning it on moderator Nick Bilton. “What’s going on with Travis and you?”

Okay! We’ll see whether that was misplaced confidence or not.

Two other interesting tidbits from the conversation:

  • Khosrowshahi didn’t totally rule out Uber moving into the grocery business after observing the massively successful food-delivery business, Uber Eats. When asked about that possible move, he described grocery as an “adjacency” to Uber Eats: “Right now we are busy with Eats.”
  • The CEO seemed skeptical about the idea of giving Uber drivers equity, but confirmed that Uber has considered giving its drivers — who are not technically employees — some stock. But he added that he was more concerned with boosting drivers’ benefits, not a “temporal thing” like a one-time award of equity that gives them a few extra dollars during next year’s IPO.

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