An Expedia veteran, Parikh was Hotwire’s youngest and first female president
Popular navigation app Waze has a new CEO: Indian American Neha Parikh, the former president of travel website Hotwire and a board member of Carvana.
Parikh, 41, who was the youngest and first female to lead Hotwire replaces Noam Bardin, who stepped down as CEO of the Google-owned navigation service last November after leading the company for 12 years.
On her first day at Waze on June 22, she tweeted: “When I told my mom about my new @waze role she said she was proud and then, in a whispered tone added, “…but I’m not sure what you’re going to do there because Waze already does everything” Hah! Thrilled to figure that out since today is my first day as CEO of @waze!”
“Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a (vocal!) Waze superfan both because it 100% helps me outsmart traffic but also because, at its core, Waze is about people helping other people,” a “beyond thrilled” Parikh had tweeted on her appointment in May.
Parikh started her career in 2000 as a Management Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, as per her LinkedIn page.
After getting her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, she joined Expedia, where she served in a variety of positions at two of the corporation’s subsidiaries: Hotels.com and Hotwire.
She is also a board member of the online used car retailer Carvana and Tailwind Acquisition Corp.
As Hotwire’s youngest and first female president, Parikh “led a return to growth by revamping the business model, reshaping the product, and rebuilding the team and culture,” Waze says. The aim is for her to do the same at Waze.
“As Neha leads Waze into the future, she will remain hyper-focused on our passionate community, beloved brand, and best-in-class products,” a spokesperson for the company said.
She was appointed to the board of Carvana in April 2019. The online car marketplace praised Parikh for her focus on customer service.
“On my first visit to the Carvana offices, I took a picture of their prominently displayed values, one of which is ‘Your next customer may be your mom,’ which I love,” she said in the press release.
“Relentless customer focus has been central to my career, so I’m thrilled to align with a company that puts their customers first.”
Waze was founded in Israel in 2008 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar, and Uri Levine. The crowdsourced navigation app quickly grew in popularity, praised for its ability to take into account traffic and construction in real time.
The app quickly emerged as a top choice among Uber and Lyft drivers. And today, it has 140 million monthly active users who drive more than 24 billion miles every month.
The company was acquired by Google in 2013 for a reported $1.1 billion. And the app continued to flourish, as Google refrained from absorbing it into its Maps division and allowed it to stay independent.
Like most companies, Waze hit a rough patch during the pandemic. Its number of monthly active users and driven kilometers both decreased significantly.
The company laid off 5 percent of its global workforce, or 30 people, in September. Its nascent Carpool service was hit especially hard, as people stopped commuting to work.