Uber Changes Direction With Departures of Two High-Level Execs

June 10, 2019

By Rebecca Heilweil

The departures of two major Uber executives — Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford and Chief Marketing Officer Rebecca Messina — have raised questions regarding the stability of the rideshare giant, following a rocky initial public offering and continued controversy among its staff.

The exits were announced via an email to employees from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, according to the Verge.

"It's a move by the CEO to really streamline management," the executive editor of CNET News Roger Cheng told Cheddar. "There are a lot of different priorities, a lot of different questions for this company right now, so they're clearly looking forward with these moves."

The departures came less than a month after the company went public and just two weeks after the company's most recent earnings report, raising concerns about the company's direction.

Uber executives have repeatedly faced criticism for their management style and inappropriate behavior.

"Uber will always be dogged by the early reputation, the bad-boy reputation that [Travis] Kalanick had instilled in the company," said Cheng.

Harford, the departing COO, had previously been accused of making racially insensitive comments about minorities and a rough management style that made some female company leaders uncomfortable, according to Bloomberg reporting.

Still, Khosrowshahi appeared to have only praise for the executive in his email to employees. "I appreciated his strategic mind, analytical chops, and unflagging passion and efforts for our mission," he wrote, per the Verge.

According to reports, Khosrowshahi and Harford agreed that the role of COO "no longer makes sense."

Harford had been with Uber since the beginning of 2018, and Messina had been at the rideshare company for less than a year. Jill Hazelbaker will take on Messina's role as the company combines its policy, communications, and marketing teams.

Uber recently announced the first route for its UberCopter program, which will fly between downtown Manhattan and John F. Kennedy Airport, will open in early July.

"It kind of reminds me of the great Amazon drone announcement during the holidays," said Cheng. "It was really more about drumming up positive attention for the company."