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Uber finally hires a COO, former Orbitz head Barney Harford

The ride-hailing company hires a second-in-command to help keep things under control.

Uber's new chief operating officer Barney Harford.

Uber said nearly a year ago that it was on the hunt to hire a chief operating officer. On Wednesday, it finally filled this position.

The ride-hailing company has hired Barney Harford, who previously served as the CEO of online travel company Orbitz. As Uber's COO, Harford will oversee the company's global operations, marketing and customer support teams.

"He is able to go deep on key aspects of a business while never losing sight of the big strategic picture," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote to company employees announcing Harford's hire.

After reeling in scandals, Uber said last March that it was seeking a COO to help run the company and partner with former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick. A lot has changed since then, however. Five major investors ousted Kalanick in June and Khosrowshahi, formerly CEO of travel site Expedia, took over in August.

Khosrowshahi has his work cut out for him, however. He's been working over the past few months to make nice with regulators, drivers and passengers, while dealing with a major court battle over Uber allegedly stealing self-driving car technology. On top of that, he's also had to struggle with a huge data breach that affected 57 million people.

Harford has been serving as an advisor to Uber since October, learning the ins and outs of the ride-hailing company. He and Khosrowshahi go back several years. Harford starting working at Expedia in 1999, and then joined Orbitz in 2009. Expedia then acquired Orbitz in 2015 for $1.6 billion, and Khosrowshahi appointed Harford as the company president for Asia Pacific.

Harford is set to start work at Uber in the beginning of January. He will be the second highest executive at the company and will report directly to Khosrowshahi.

"I have never met a stronger operator or a more thoughtful strategist than Barney," Khosrowshahi wrote. "He loves engaging with operations, marketing, product, and engineering teams around hard problems."

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