The Biography of Dara Khosrowshahi

Dara Khosrowshahi In front of a Uber Office.

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The Life Story of Dara Khosrowshahi

In a time when traveling has become an important part of our lives, we need to think about the people that made it happen.

For example, millions of people use Expedia for international traveling, and the same applies to Uber for local traveling. We have one man to thank for their success, and that man is Dara Khosrowshahi.

A man of Iranian origins whose family lost their fortune to the revolution, he became one of the most successful entrepreneurs and CEOs in the United States.

Dara made Expedia a globally used platform, bringing Uber even higher. In this article, we will learn how Dara Khosrowshahi became a force to be reckoned with.

 

“A CEO of a multinational global company can’t say what to do; you’ve got to plant the flag.” ~  Dara Khosrowshahi

 

Early Life and Education

Khosrowshahi was born in Iran on the 28th of May 1969. His parents were Asghar (Gary) and Lili Khosrowshahi, who founded Alborz Investments.

Dara’s family was wealthy, so he grew up in a mansion on his family’s compound. Khosrowshahi was the youngest of three children, and he had a fairly easy and undisturbed life until he was nine.

The conglomerate his family founded was very successful, as they invested in pharmaceuticals, food, chemicals, trading, packaging, and services, giving them a wealthy lifestyle.

However, before the Iranian revolution struck in 1978, his family became targets for their wealth. As a result, his mother decided to pack their bags and flee their home country. Eventually, their company was nationalized.

Initially, the family took refuge in southern France, planning to return if the revolution was unsuccessful. However, things did not go their way, so they moved to the United States.

 

“Desperation sometimes drives innovation.” ~  Dara Khosrowshahi

 

The family had a difficult time there and lost their entire fortune. They would remain with their uncle in New York, Tarrytown.

Later, in 1982, Khosrowshahi’s father had to return to Iran so that he could take care of his ailing grandfather. However, he was not allowed to leave the country for the next six years, which caused Khosrowshahi to spend his teenage years without his father.

Khosrowshahi graduated from Hackley School 1987, a Tarrytown private university prep school.

Four years later, in 1991, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science at Brown University. He majored in electronics and electrical engineering and was also part of the Sigma Chi fraternity during his university years.

Career

After graduating from college, Dara Khosrowshahi joined several companies where he could polish his business experience.

Dara’s first job was in 1991 when he joined the investment bank Allen & Co. as their analyst. He would remain there until 1998 when he left the bank to work for a former client, Barry Diller.

Khosrowshahi worked at two of Diller’s companies. First, he would work at USA Networks, where he was vice president and then president. Later on, he was appointed the chief financial officer at Diller’s other company, IAC Inc.

a. Expedia

In 2001, IAC purchased Expedia, a travel agency allowing users to book vacations online. Later, in 2005, Khosrowshahi became the chief executive officer of Expedia.

In 2015, he was given $90 million worth of stock options for Expedia, and in return, he was placed in a long-term employment agreement with Expedia until 2020.

He had several accomplishments during his time at Expedia. Ernst & Young gave Khosrowshahi the “Pacific Northwest Entrepreneur of the Year” award.

The gross value of the associated bookings and hotels also quadrupled, with Expedia expanding in more than 60 countries.

By 2016, Khosrowshahi became one of the highest-paid chief senior executives in the U.S.

b. Uber

Khosrowshahi’s success did not stop at Expedia. In 2017, he was appointed as the CEO of Uber, replacing billionaire Travis Kalanick. At first, he was seen as the “dark horse of the other initial candidates: Meg Whitman and Jeff Immelt. That said, almost all his supporters started backing Khosrowshahi after Immelt failed his presentation.

Kalanick was one of those people, even if Khosrowshahi said the former would have no role in future Uber operations. Khosrowshahi clarified that he would run things and that no one could lead things under his watch. On one of his slides, he said there could not be two CEOs.

At that point, only Khosrowshahi and Whitman were in the running for the role of CEO. There were quite a few tense moments, along with several deadlocks.

Threats and promises of lawsuits were made until one of Whitman’s supporters changed their vote to Khosrowshahi, breaking the deadlock and making Khosrowshahi CEO.

Khosrowshahi forfeited his Expedia stocks, worth $180 million at that time. However, the change turned profitable since Uber paid him over $200 million to take over as CEO.

Dara’s role at Uber was to clean the company’s image, which suffered during Kalanick’s tenure.

He changed Kalanick’s initial 14 values, deemed “inviolable,” claiming it was the right thing to do.

In May 2019, Dara brought Uber into an initial public offering, sending a company-wide letter to the employees.

c. Current roles and board memberships

Khosrowshahi is no longer the CEO of Expedia but remains a board member while continuing as the CEO of Uber.

Dara also serves as a board director for Hotels.com and BET.com. Previously, he worked as a board member for the New York Times, but he dropped out of that position.

 

“Put the right people in the right places, and then you trust them to do the right stuff.” ~  Dara Khosrowshahi

 

Leadership Style

All the companies he has been in charge of grew significantly over time, believed to be because of his leadership and management style. His partners and employees defined him as having several styles, mostly a social and powerful leader.

While at Expedia, he focused mostly on driving innovation and pressing for international growth showing his desire for power and wanting his company to become one of the most influential in the world.

During his time at Expedia, he turned a small travel website into one of the biggest online travel companies, and this would express his thirst for power and success.

During his leadership, he would also focus greatly on the social aspect.

He would listen to his customers on social media, using the feedback he received to improve the company. Knowledge also holds great importance, as he firmly believes knowledge equals power.

 

“You have to empower your employees to make their own choices and trust that they will make the right choices.” ~  Dara Khosrowshahi

 

Personal Life

Khosrowshahi was married twice, having a daughter and a son from his first marriage: Alex and Chloe. On the 12th of December 2012, Khosrowshahi married Sydney Shapiro, an actress and former preschool teacher.

The couple married in Las Vegas, where Khosrowshahi would praise his wife for wearing a Slayer T-shirt at their wedding. Sydney gave birth to twin sons, Hugo Gubrit and Hayes Epic.

Dara’s uncle, Hassan Khosrowshahi, also fled from Iran during the Iranian Revolution. He settled in the United States, and while he lost everything in the revolution, he became a billionaire in the new lands.

Thanks to his help and his family’s success in their new business endeavors, Dara Khosrowshahi obtained a good education.

 

“We don’t believe in a world of us versus them; we look at the world as all of us together.” ~  Dara Khosrowshahi

 

Conclusion

Dara Khosrowshahi is a man that believes in a job well done. For him, overcoming life’s odds was more than a test – an opportunity.

As a man whose family lost everything to the Iranian Revolution, he proved that you could rebuild your wealth with hard work and is an inspiration to many other new business owners.

Key Points

  • Dara Khosrowshahi is of Iranian origin; his family lost their fortune due to the Iranian revolution and immigrated to the U.S.
  • Born on May 28, 1969, Khosrowshahi spent his early life in Iran before his family fled to the U.S. in 1978 due to the Iranian Revolution.
  • Khosrowshahi graduated from Hackley School in 1987 and later from Brown University in 1991 with a electronics and electrical engineering degree.
  • His early career began in investment banking at Allen & Co., followed by senior positions at USA Networks and IAC Inc.
  • He became the CEO of Expedia in 2005 after IAC purchased the company. Under his leadership, the value of bookings and hotels quadrupled, and Expedia expanded into more than 60 countries.
  • In 2017, Khosrowshahi was appointed as the CEO of Uber, where he worked to clean up the company’s image and led it to an initial public offering in May 2019.
  • He currently serves as a board member for Expedia, Hotels.com, and BET.com, in addition to his role as CEO of Uber.
  • Khosrowshahi is known for his leadership style focusing on innovation, international growth, and customer feedback.
  • He was married twice and has four children: a daughter and a son from his first marriage and twin sons from his second marriage to Sydney Shapiro.

Timeline.Timeline of Dara Khosrowshahi

1969:

Dara Khosrowshahi is born in Iran on May 28th.

1978:

The Iranian revolution strikes, and Khosrowshahi’s family becomes targets for their wealth. They flee Iran and move to southern France.

1982:

Khosrowshahi’s father returns to Iran to care for his ailing grandfather, leaving Khosrowshahi without his father for six years.

1987:

Khosrowshahi graduates from Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York.

1991:

Khosrowshahi graduates from Brown University with a Bachelor of Science in electronics and electrical engineering.

1991-1998:

Khosrowshahi is an investment bank Allen & Co analyst.

1998:

Khosrowshahi joins Barry Diller’s company, USA Networks, first as a vice president and then as president.

2001:

IAC purchases Expedia

2005:

Khosrowshahi becomes the CEO of Expedia.

2015:

Khosrowshahi is given $90 million worth of stock options for Expedia and enters a long-term employment agreement with the company.

2017:

Khosrowshahi is appointed as the CEO of Uber, replacing Travis Kalanick.

2019:

Khosrowshahi takes Uber public in an initial public offering.

After 2019:

Khosrowshahi is no longer the CEO of Expedia but remains a board member while continuing as the CEO of Uber. He also serves as a board director for Hotels.com and BET.com.

Lessons From The Life of Dara Khosrowshahi

The lesson I selected for this post is based on a quote from Dara Khosrowshahi: “Put the right people in the right places, and then you trust them to do the right stuff.”

When managing a group of people, whether you run your own business or manage a department, one of the golden rules is to hire the right people for each position. Never hire someone just to get the post filled because it can cost you dearly.

You will end up with someone that is not fit for the job. You will have wasted money training the person and lost time that could have been used to properly train someone fit for the job.

In addition to the lost time and money, you must start the process from the beginning, not to mention that you must fire the person you recently hired, which can be awkward.

It’s to your advantage to take your time and do everything you can to ensure you hire the right person from the start.

When you hire people fit for each position, you can invest in them to become high performers and benefit from their talents, building long-term working relationships while helping them advance their careers. When you make it a rule to never hire unsuitable people, you end up with a strong team that can help you build your department into one that will benefit the company.

Another important part of this lesson is to trust your employees to do the right thing. Naturally, your employees must have a strong understanding of what you expect from them. Once that’s established, you can let them do their job. With competent employees on your team, micromanagement is counterproductive, and it’s a practice that can harm an employee’s confidence and drive.

When you look at the big picture, it’s expensive to hire people, so you want to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth, and one key to accomplishing that is to hire the right people from the start!

  • Dara Khosrowshahi was born in Iran on May 28th, 1969.
  • His parents were Asghar (Gary) and Lili Khosrowshahi, who founded Alborz Investments.
  • Khosrowshahi grew up in a mansion on his family’s compound.
  • His family’s conglomerate was successful, investing in various industries such as pharmaceuticals, food, chemicals, trading, packaging, and services.
  • The Iranian revolution in 1978 resulted in his family becoming targets for their wealth, leading them to flee the country and eventually lose their entire fortune.
  • Khosrowshahi’s father had to return to Iran in 1982, causing Khosrowshahi to spend his teenage years without his father.
  • He graduated from Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York, in 1987.
  • In 1991, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Brown University, majoring in electronics and electrical engineering.
  • Khosrowshahi joined Allen & Co. as an analyst in 1991 and later worked at Barry Diller’s companies, USA Networks and IAC Inc.
  • In 2001, IAC purchased Expedia, and Khosrowshahi became the CEO of Expedia in 2005.
  • During his time at Expedia, the company expanded globally and saw significant growth in bookings and hotels.
  • Khosrowshahi became the CEO of Uber in 2017, replacing Travis Kalanick.
  • He focused on cleaning up Uber’s image and led the company through an initial public offering in 2019.
  • Khosrowshahi is no longer the CEO of Expedia but remains a board member while continuing as the CEO of Uber.
  • He is married to Sydney Shapiro and has children from his previous marriage and twin sons with Sydney.
  • Khosrowshahi’s uncle, Hassan Khosrowshahi, fled Iran during the revolution and became a billionaire in the United States.
  • Khosrowshahi is known for his leadership and management style, focusing on innovation, international growth, and social aspects in his companies.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dara Khosrowshahi

The information in this post answers many of the questions about Dara Khosrowshahi. In addition, this section provides a summary and any further information.

  1. When and where was Dara Khosrowshahi born?

Dara Khosrowshahi was born on May 28, 1969, in Iran.

  1. What was the name of the company founded by Dara Khosrowshahi’s parents?

Dara Khosrowshahi’s parents founded Alborz Investments.

  1. Why did Dara Khosrowshahi’s family leave Iran?

Dara Khosrowshahi’s family left Iran because they became targets for their wealth during the Iranian Revolution.

  1. Where did Dara Khosrowshahi’s family initially take refuge after leaving Iran?

After leaving Iran, Dara Khosrowshahi’s family initially took refuge in southern France.

  1. Where did Dara Khosrowshahi graduate from high school?

Dara Khosrowshahi graduated from Hackley School, a Tarrytown private university prep school.

  1. What was Dara Khosrowshahi’s major in college?

Dara Khosrowshahi majored in electronics and electrical engineering at Brown University.

  1. Which investment bank did Dara Khosrowshahi join as an analyst in 1991?

Dara Khosrowshahi joined the investment bank Allen & Co. as an analyst in 1991.

  1. Which company did Dara Khosrowshahi become the CEO of in 2005?

Dara Khosrowshahi became the CEO of Expedia in 2005.

  1. What award did Dara Khosrowshahi receive from Ernst & Young?

Dara Khosrowshahi received the “Pacific Northwest Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Ernst & Young.

  1. When did Dara Khosrowshahi become the CEO of Uber?

Dara Khosrowshahi became the CEO of Uber in 2017.

  1. How did Dara Khosrowshahi change Uber’s image after becoming CEO?

Dara Khosrowshahi aimed to clean the company’s image and changed the initial values the former CEO, Travis Kalanick, set.

  1. What is Dara Khosrowshahi’s current role at Expedia and Uber?

Dara Khosrowshahi is no longer the CEO of Expedia but remains a board member and continues to serve as the CEO of Uber.

  1. What leadership style is associated with Dara Khosrowshahi?

Dara Khosrowshahi is described as a social and powerful leader who focuses on driving innovation and international growth.

  1. How often has Dara Khosrowshahi been married, and how many children does he have?

Dara Khosrowshahi has been married twice and has a daughter and a son from his first marriage. He also has twin sons from his second marriage.

  1. Who is Dara Khosrowshahi’s uncle, and what is his significance?

Dara Khosrowshahi’s uncle is Hassan Khosrowshahi, who also fled Iran during the Iranian Revolution and became a billionaire in the United States. He supported Dara Khosrowshahi’s education and the family’s success in new business endeavors.

  1. What message does Dara Khosrowshahi’s life story convey?

Dara Khosrowshahi’s life story conveys the message that one can overcome life’s odds and rebuild wealth through hard work and determination.

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