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Uber’s Controversial, Quiet COO Departs

The No. 2 executive at Uber is leaving, along with the chief marketing officer, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s first big personnel moves since Uber’s May IPO. The COO, Barney Harford, has been largely absent from the public eye since arriving at the company in the fall of 2017 alongside Mr. Khosrowshahi, who was also his boss when the men both worked at Expedia.

Mr. Harford had his fair share of critics inside of Uber. Rachel Holt, who currently leads the company’s “new mobility” group focused on bikes and scooters, previously threatened to quit rather than report to Mr. Harford after he was made COO, said two people familiar with the issue. Ms. Holt was an operations leader at the time. And while Mr. Harford oversaw services including Uber Eats, the leader of that unit, Jason Droege, often communicated directly with the CEO, as did another of Mr. Harford’s direct reports, Andrew Macdonald. In other words, there was already momentum behind today’s change, and presumably Mr. Khosrowshahi has more time to devote to running the company’s business units following the IPO.

In addition, Mr. Harford allegedly made insensitive racially-related remarks that he later apologized for, which forced him to keep a lower profile. Mr. Harford earned at least $5.5 million in salary and vested stock for his time at Uber. (He did not respond to a request for comment.) Uber CMO Rebecca Messina, who reported to Mr. Harford, also is leaving. It is unclear why she stayed only nine months. In picking up her responsibilities, comms/policy chief Jill Hazelbaker showed her influence is growing.

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