How this man just made $125 million in a year

By Kate Schneider of

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Expedia Inc. Photo / Bloomberg
Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Expedia Inc. Photo / Bloomberg

Dara Khosrowshahi has come a long way since being forced to flee his home at the age of nine, and now he's laughing all the way to the bank.

That's because the now 46-year-old Iranian American, who has been the chief executive of Expedia Inc. since 2005, just raked in a whopping $125 million.

The travel chief's salary for the 2015 financial year was just disclosed by the Washington-based company in its annual report. Most of his compensation comes in the form of 2.7 million stock options, with a value of $109 million, that vest over five-and-a-half years.

There is one catch - in order to bank part ($1.4m) of his package, he must grow Expedia's stock price to $223 by September 2020, up from $152 currently. This is considered a fairly modest growth, though the online travel market is currently a challenging one.

In comparison, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce received a 490 per cent pay rise during the same financial year, racking in $11.8 million for his role in turning the Flying Kangaroo around.

In the airline world, Mr Joyce earned less than his counterparts at Delta ($23.1 million) and United Airlines ($16.8 million). Still, that's small change compared to Mr Khosrowshahi's rewards.

Since he has been at the helm of the company Mr Khosrowshahi has spearheaded enormous growth that has seen Expedia become one of the world's largest online travel companies.

It now operates more than 150 travel booking sites in more than 70 countries, including the brands Expedia,, Orbitz Worldwide, Hotwire, Travelocity and Wotif Group.

"Dara Khosrowshahi has been a transformational CEO," said Expedia spokeswoman Sarah Gavin.


Life took an unexpected turn for Mr Khosrowshahi when he was young and his family moved to the US during the Iranian Revolution. The family had owned 15 factories, making pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, among other products.

But when the revolution heated up and a stray bullet hit their home, they booked a holiday to France. They never returned home, instead moving to New York.

"I came to the States with my family in 1978 during the Iranian Revolution when I was nine," he told SeattleBusinessMag.

"I thought all those channels on cable TV were really cool. I didn't notice that we moved from a mansion to a little condo. We had the comfort of family and food on the table."

In the years following, Mr. Khosrowshahi told the New York Times; "I like to think I've been on (holiday) ever since."

One thing's for sure, he still knows how to have fun.


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