At first blush, the choice of Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to lead Uber may seem a little odd.
The 48-year-old chief executive, who was born in Iran and moved to the US in 1978 to flee the Iranian Revolution, does not live in Silicon Valley; he lives in Bellevue, US, where Expedia is headquartered.
The two businesses also appear to have little in common. Like Uber, online travel giant Expedia is a data-driven marketplace that links sellers to consumers who are on the move -- but the connections pretty much stop there.
Yet Khosrowshahi has deep ties to Silicon Valley, many of them through his own family. Indeed, Khosrowshahi may have one of the most extensive family networks of anyone working in the technology industry today -- six of his relatives are highly successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or executives with strong ties to tech.
His brother Kaveh Khosrowshahi is managing director of Allen & Co, the influential boutique investment bank the runs the Sun Valley conference, a networking event frequented by tech elites like Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, entrepreneur Elon Musk, and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey.
His cousin Amir Khosrowshahi co-founded an artificial intelligence company, Nervana, that was acquired by Intel last year for US$400 million (NZ$551m) (He is now an executive in Intel's artificial intelligence unit).
His twin cousins, Ali and Hadi Partovi were early investors in many of the most successful tech companies produced by Silicon Valley over the last decade, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Uber, and Facebook. They also cofounded Code.org, an influential non-profit focused on improving computer science education across the United States.
Two other family members are Google executives. One cousin, Farzad Khosrowshahi, invented the software tool now known as Google spreadsheets, and is the executive that runs Google Docs.
Another family member, Avid Larizadeh Duggan, is a general partner at Google Ventures, the search giant's venture capital arm that invests in startups (Uber was an investment in the Google ventures portfolio) .
In an interview, Ali Partovi said that his cousin Dara was always someone he and his brother had looked up to. "My whole life, anytime I've faced a high-pressure decision, my model for mature behavior has been, 'What would Dara do'? He's one of the humblest and most even-keeled people I know."
That trait in itself may serve the embattled Uber well, and will be a stark contrast to the leadership style of former chief executive Travis Kalanick. Kalanick is known to fly into fits of anger.
(In one infamous episode that was caught on video earlier this year, Kalanick unloaded on an Uber driver who criticized the company's wages.)
Many of the cousins went to the same high school, the Hackley School, a private prep school in Tarrytown, NY, Partovi said.
Over the years, they have helped one another, investing in each other's companies and supporting one another's ideas. The extended family moved to the United States between the late seventies and eighties, fleeing the Iranian revolution.
Their remarkable immigrant success story isn't lost on them, which is why Khosrowshahi and his cousins became some of the most vocal opponents of President Donald Trump's immigration ban on Muslim Americans, including those from Iran. Shortly after the ban was issued, Khosrowshahi sent a memo to the entire Expedia workforce, according to Business Insider.
"I believe that with this executive order, our president has reverted to the short game," he wrote. "The US may be ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary."
Khosrowshahi reiterated his concerns during a routine earnings call with investors.
While it's not known who first tapped Khosrowshahi to come in to interview for the top job at Uber, conservations began in Seattle a few weeks ago, said people familiar with the discussions.
At the time, the board was considering two other candidates with higher-profiles, GE chief executive Jeff Immelt and HPE chief Meg Whitman.
The negotiations were kept so secret that many of Khosrowshahi's own family members were surprised when they heard the news, Ali Partovi said. "My phone has been blowing up with messages for my family for the last hour," he said on Sunday evening.