Over the weekend, after under-performed stock-market debut, the ride-hailing giant is parting ways with two of Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi’s 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.
Khosrowshahi is now set to oversee the core functions of the company, and two long standing Uber executives are being promoted to fill in responsibilities, according to the email. Andrew Macdonald, vice president of Americas operations and business development, will head operations. Jill Hazelbaker, senior vice president of communications and public policy, will take on oversight of the marketing department.
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 he made last year. 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.
Messina’s worked at Uber lasted just nine months. She had moved to the top ranks at Coca-Cola Co. and at Uber, she was appointed as one of Khosrowshahi’s top executive staffs until now. However, Part of the reason for the change, Khosrowshahi wrote to staff, is that “marketing is so important to our business, and our brand continues to be challenged.”
Khosrowshahi sent Harford off with an appreciative note on Twitter: “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 relationship dates back a decade to when the two were competing against each other as the CEOs of Orbitz and Expedia, respectively.
In an email Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi detailing the moves, which reads:
“We’ve made so much progress over the last two years, and Uber is in a far better spot both internally and externally. 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. “Given this, Barney and I have agreed that the COO role no longer makes sense, and he’s decided to leave Uber.”
“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 a Friday email 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.”
It’s tremendous stock market fall in its first month as a publicly traded company, as investors question its ability to someday turn a profit. The company posted a $1.01-billion loss—The No. 1 ride-hailing company has struggled in the weeks following its initial public offering. Its stock broke above its IPO price of $45 per share for the first time since its May 10 public debut and shares fell as much as 2.3% in extended trading.