Expedia is staying in house for its next chief executive, picking Mark Okerstrom for the top spot after Dara Khosrowshahi was tapped to lead embattled ride-hailing behemoth Uber Technologies.
Okerstrom, Expedia's chief financial officer and executive vice president of operations since 2011, joined the online-travel company in 2006.
In a call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Okerstrom said he plans "largely a continuation of the strategic course we've been on."
"I know I've got big shoes to fill," said Okerstrom [pictured above], who will also join Expedia's board of directors.
The Bellevue company has pushed a global expansion of its primarily U.S.-focused business, as well as opportunistic acquisitions of rivals. Mergers and acquisitions, Okerstrom said, "is in our DNA, and it will be in our DNA in the future."
The company is also planning to move its headquarters to Seattle's waterfront in 2019.
Khosrowshahi, Expedia's CEO since 2005, this week accepted the same position at Uber, replacing departed co-founder Travis Kalanick. Khosrowshahi will remain on Expedia's board.
That link to Uber could bring partnerships with Expedia or other business deals down the line, Okerstrom said. "I would just say there's potential," he said, responding to a reporter's question about potential deals. "We now have a much closer tie to Uber than we had before."
Expedia Chairman Barry Diller said Okerstrom was the only candidate the board considered.
In recent years he was Khosrowshahi's "principal partner" in running the company, Diller said. In humor, too: Just before Halloween in 2014, the two appeared at the office dressed in matching ketchup and mustard costumes.
Canada-born Okerstrom earned a masters in business administration at Harvard University and a law degree from the University of British Columbia.
Before joining Expedia, he was a consultant with Bain in Boston and San Francisco, and worked for investment bank UBS in London.
He was self-effacing in an introductory email to employees Wednesday, beginning his note with an understatement. "Well well!" he wrote. "These have been an eventful few days haven't they!"
Okerstrom's total compensation for 2016 was $18.2 million, with $1.5 million in cash and the vast majority in Expedia option awards, according to its regulatory filings.
Expedia paid Khosrowshahi just $2.4 million in 2016, but the prior year he received nearly $91 million in Expedia options vesting over several years making, him the nation's highest-paid public company CEO that year.
Neither company has said how much its new CEO will be paid.
© 2017 Seattle Times under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Image credit: Expedia, Inc.
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