Expedia late Wednesday announced that its board of directors approved the appointment of Mark Okerstrom as its new president and chief executive.
Expedia, Inc. is an American travel company that owns and operates several international global online travel brands, primarily travel fare aggregator websites and travel metasearch engines including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, trivago, Venere.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, and HomeAway.
The company operates about 200 travel booking websites in about 75 countries and has listings for about 350,000 hotels and 500 airlines.
According to Rich Barton, the first CEO, the word “Expedia” is derived from a combination of “exploration and speed” and contains the high-point Scrabble letter “X”.
OffOkerstrom had been serving as the online travel company’s chief financial officer and executive vice president of operations.
He succeeds Dara Khosrowshahi, who left the company to join Uber as its new CEO. Okerstrom was Khosrowshahi’s principal partner in operating the company, “and therefore this transition is as natural as water flowing down a snow-packed mountain,” said Expedia Chairman Barry Diller, in prepared remarks. “There was no other candidate that the board considered.” Okerstrom joined Expedia in 2006. Expedia shares were up 0.2%, near 143.75, during after-hours trading in the stock market today.
WSJ had earlier predicted in an earlier report that the departure of Expedia Inc. chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi could mean a promotion for the company’s finance chief Mark Okerstrom.
Mr. Khosrowshahi said Tuesday he plans to accept the top job at Uber Technologies Inc.
Mr. Okerstrom, according to some analysts, is widely seen as the natural choice to extend efforts already in place to steer Expedia through choppy waters.
“We believe he has been a strong partner to Dara in leading Expedia and he would likely ensure a smooth transition,” said Doug Anmuth, a J.P. Morgan analyst, in a client note.
Mr. Khosrowshahi said he plans to be involved in the succession plans at Expedia, but declined to mention any specific candidates to succeed him as chief executive. When asked about Mr. Okerstrom, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said, “Mark is a superstar and the rest of the senior team are superstars.”
“At Expedia we take succession planning really seriously, and Barry (Diller) and the board and I have had a plan in place for some period of time,” he said. “You never know when you will need to trigger those plans.”
Expedia chairman and media mogul Barry Diller, in a company memo, praised the bench Mr. Khosrowshahi leaves behind as “tremendously talented.”
Prior to joining Expedia, Okerstrom was with strategy consultancy Bain & Company and was also an attorney specializing in mergers and acquisitions, according to a company filing.
His past experience combined with his Harvard Business School background is a plus, said Peter Crist, chairman of Crist|Kolder Associates, an executive recruiting firm.
“He’s outstanding,” he said. “You have to be whip smart to be able to deal with Barry Diller financially.”
Technically, the odds are against Mr. Okerstrom. The percentage of CFOs advancing to the CEO role has dropped so far in 2017 after climbing steadily for the past three years, according to the Crist|Kolder 2017 Volatility Report. Only 6.2% of CEOs have been promoted from the CFO role this year, down from 7.8% in 2016.
Expedia is still working on integrating Orbitz Worldwide Inc. and Travelocity acquiring both in 2015, adding the websites to a stable that also included Hotels.com and CheapTickets.com.
The company reported a second-quarter net income of $56.7 million, or 36 cents per share, up from $31.6 million, or 21 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue was $2.59 billion, up from $2.2 billion in the year-earlier period.