Uber Hires Banking Exec Nelson Chai as CFO

Chai, who fills a position vacant since 2015, "has a year to turn Uber into a profitable company" ahead of a planned IPO.
Matthew HellerAugust 22, 2018
Uber Hires Banking Exec Nelson Chai as CFO

Uber has filled its long-vacant CFO position, hiring banking executive Nelson Chai to help clean up its financials as it prepares for an initial public offering next year.

The ride-share company’s search for a new CFO ended on Tuesday as it announced Chai will take the position last occupied by Brent Callinicos, who left Uber in 2015.

How Startup CFO Grew Food Company 50% YoY

How Startup CFO Grew Food Company 50% YoY

This case study of JonnyPops’ success highlights the unusual financial and operational strategies that enabled rapid expansion into a crowded and highly competitive frozen treat market. 

Chai, a former Merrill Lynch CFO, was most recently the chief executive of insurance firm The Warranty Group. He has taken a job at Uber that CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has struggled to fill, admitting last month that the search was “taking longer than I’d like” and he was “being picky.”

“I’m incredibly excited to bring on someone as experienced and thoughtful as Nelson,” he said in a news release. “He will be a great partner for me and the entire management team as we move towards becoming a public company.”

According to Recode, Chai has “his work cut out for him” at Uber, which has slated its IPO for late 2019 but has yet to make its ride-share business profitable. The company recently said it lost $891 million in the second quarter of 2018, down from a $1.1 billion loss a year ago.

Nelson Chai

“Chai has a year to take Uber’s money-losing rides business and turn it into a profitable company ready to trade on the public markets,” Recode said.

The most recent company-released numbers put Uber’s valuation at around $60 billion.

Khosrowshahi noted that Chai has “more than a decade of experience in senior positions at some of the world’s leading publicly traded financial services and insurance companies.” He joined The Warranty Group in January 2017 after previously serving as president of CIT Group for more than five years and as CFO of Merrill Lynch for two years.

Chai’s selection as Uber’s CFO “serves as an unofficial kickoff for the battle on Wall Street to take Uber public,” Recode said. “Top-tier banks are preparing to spend 2019 competing with one another to win the Uber IPO deal. They have been watching the Uber CFO search closely.”