Uber Technologies Inc. is planning to go public in 2019, said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, in his first public interview since taking the helm at the sprawling ride-hailing startup in August.
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had said he hoped to postpone an Uber IPO as long as possible, but now, Kalanick and the entire Uber board have said they're in favor of one. Khosrowshahi initially outlined an IPO timeline of 18 to 36 months when he took over the troubled start-up, but now there's a clearer idea of when it may happen.
"We have all the disadvantages of being a public company with the spotlight being on us, with none of the advantages," Khosrowshahi said on Thursday at the New York Times' Dealbook Conference in New York City. "Travis and the whole board now agree we should just go public. The numbers support it."
Uber is rebuilding the governance of the company as it preps for an IPO, Khosrowshahi said.
The composition of Uber's top ranks is just one item on the long list of things being overhauled at Uber. Since he arrived at Uber, Khosrowshahi has met with the staff to outline a major redesign of the company's culture. Chief on the list is "doing the right thing. Period."
Many insiders at Uber have said that the toxic workplace environment stemmed from the startup's "win at all costs" strategy. That meant that plenty of inappropriate behavior went unchecked, ultimately leading to a welter of complaints from employees, including former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, who detailed experiences of sexual harassment in a blog post.
"You can talk about culture, but the fact is that everyone wants to play on a winning team," Khosrowshahi said. "Sometimes the winning can hide rot that can happen in an organization. Uber was winning. And while it was scaling, it was not necessarily scaling in terms of culture and some of the executives there."
The focus on winning ultimately led to a lot of excuses for bad behavior, he added.
"There were certain cultural values at Uber...that meant well," Khosrowshahi explained. "But they were twisted into excuses for bad behavior and being an a--hole."
Aside from discussing Uber's cultural revamp, Khosrowshahi described the complex relationships between Uber, Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) Waymo, Chinese tech giant Didi Chuxing, SoftBank (SFTBY) and Lyft as being like a "giant orgy." Uber is still in the midst of clearing an investment from SoftBank -- a process that has hit some snags along the way but is on track to be successful, according to Khosrowshahi.
The ex-Expedia, Inc. (EXPE) CEO is also optimistic that Uber's big bet on autonomous cars will pay off.
"I am very confident that we are one of the top three players in developing autonomy," Khosrowshahi explained. "I don't want to name names of [who the others are] and honestly I don't know enough right now, but I'm very confident in our team."
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