Skift Take

The new Uber CEO is already putting his imprint on the company, drafting a former Expedia general counsel Burke Norton in an extremely critical role. There are lots of more positions to fill, and Khosrowshahi has a large rolodex — a figurative one — to draw from.

Uber is poised to name Burke Norton, who worked closely with just-named Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Expedia Inc. as general counsel from 2006 to 2011, as Uber’s new general counsel, Skift has exclusively learned.

Norton, who had been at as chief legal officer since 2011, will replace Salle Yoo, who emailed Uber staff earlier this week saying she was resigning.

[Update: We initially reported that Burke’s title would be general counsel but we now understand that the exact title is fluid, ranging from chief legal officer to variations of that. As we reported earlier, nothing is final until it is final when it comes to negotiations.]

Norton’s looming appointment is the first signature one for Khosrowshahi, who bolted from Expedia after a dozen years as boss and became Uber’s new CEO at the beginning of September, replacing the ousted Travis Kalanick.

The appointment of Burke is a critical one for Khosrowshahi and Uber as the ride-sharing company faces a slew of legal challenges, including multiple U.S. Justice Department investigations, and a lawsuit leveled by Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, alleging theft of intellectual property.

Uber also faces various regulatory battles in cities and countries around the world.

Skift believes that the naming of Norton as general counsel is imminent, although it isn’t a done deal until Uber officially announces it.

Naming Burke as Uber general counsel would be part of Khosrowshahi’s effort to quickly put his stamp on the company as he seeks to turn around a toxic culture, figure out the business model, and catapult Uber toward an IPO.

Khosrowshahi has a handful of key position to fill at Uber, including naming an independent chairman, two board members, and heads of various business units, including engineering, self-driving cars, finance and product after a slew of departures over the last year.

When Khosrowshahi conducted his first meeting with Uber employees a couple of weeks ago, an erroneous report emerged that an Khosrowshahi would be bring the Expedia CFO with him. Contrary to that report, then-Expedia CFO Mark Okerstrom was name the new Expedia CEO a few days later.

But Norton may not be the only top official with an Expedia pedigree to follow Khosrowshahi to Uber. There may be more to come.

At Expedia, while working in the office of chairman Barry Diller as an executive vice president and general counsel, Norton oversaw Expedia’s nagging battle against states, counties and municipalities, which have been alleging since 2004 that Expedia wasn’t paying its proper share of hotel taxes for online booking.

Burke, who prior to Salesforce and Expedia practiced corporate and securities law at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, also championed net neutrality rules at Expedia.

Norton has been effusive in his praise of Khosrowshahi and his appointment as the new Uber boss, telling Recode late last month: “Dara is the smartest, most passionate and thoughtful executive I’ve worked with in 25 years,” said Burke Norton, former Salesforce and Expedia senior exec. “He has super high integrity and is a phenomenal leader — the kind of leader whom people would follow into a burning building.”

Uber didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment.


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Tags: expedia, uber

Photo credit: In this March 15, 2017, file photo, an Uber car drives through LaGuardia Airport in New York. Seth Wenig / Associated Press

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