Uber needs to hire a dream team — here's a fantasy list of free agents

Key Points
  • In addition to a CEO and chief operating officer, Uber needs executives in charge of business, finance, communications, engineering and self-driving cars.
  • Hiring someone away from a highly paid position can be hard, expensive and time-consuming.
  • Luckily, top executives and engineers like Howard Schultz, Marissa Mayer and Jeff Immelt have time on their hands.

One of Silicon Valley's hottest companies has a slew of high-level jobs up for grabs. CEO Travis Kalanick has stepped down. President Jeff Jones left the company. The search for a chief operating officer is still underway. The executives in charge of business, finance, communications, engineering and self-driving cars are all out the door.

Recode suggests Uber try to snag Susan Wojcicki from YouTube could be a great get, while CNBC's "Fast Money" trader Karen Finerman likes Instagram's Marne Levine or Yahoo alumna Sue Decker. Sheryl SandbergFacebook chief operating officer and advocate of women in the workplace — has been floated, though sources tell NBC News and Recode that she's happily employed.

But hiring someone away from a highly paid position can be hard, expensive and time-consuming, especially for a company that needs to staff up on the double.

Luckily, there are plenty of experienced executives right now who are free agents — at least, according to their public profiles on social media, in regulatory filings and in the press. (CNBC was either unable to reach, or didn't immediately hear back, from those listed).

Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns, chairwoman and former CEO of Xerox, in Havana, Cuba on March 21, 2016.
Justin Solomon | CNBC

After a 36-year career with Xerox, Burns retired as Xerox CEO in December 2016, leaving the board after the 2017 shareholder meeting as the company split in two, according to regulatory filings. Burns told her story of rising from the public housing projects of New York to become an engineer, and later, one of the most prominent women of color in technology.

Megan Smith

Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
Michael Newberg | CNBC

Another of Finerman's favorites, Smith was last an executive at an organization even bigger than Uber: The United States. The U.S. chief technology officer under President Barack Obama, Smith has been another outspoken advocate of women in tech. Her resume includes Google and MIT — and her last job ended in January, according to LinkedIn.

Jon Rubinstein

Rubinstein said in March he would leave his position as co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund firm. Rubinstein, who said he would stay on as an advisor at Bridgewater, is well-versed in finance at a time when Uber lacks a chief financial officer. He's also a seasoned technologist: He spent years working with Steve Jobs at Apple, and also worked at HP.

Adam Bain

Adam Bain
Source: Twitter

Twitter's former chief operating officer says online he's "taking a break before something new." Bain was reportedly so well-liked as a leader that the hashtag #AdamBainIsSoNice once started trending around Twitter headquarters, according to USA Today. That matters, given that investigators recommended that Uber implement its new cultural guidelines with someone "viewed positively by employees."

Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz of Starbucks on CNBC's Squawk Box, December 2, 2016.
Source: CNBC

Schultz may not be a technology executive, but in some of the other areas where Uber is hiring — from operations to communications — the former Starbucks CEO is the master. Shultz handed over the keys to Starbucks in April, although he is still executive chairman of the board. Shultz was able to scale Starbucks from just 4 stores — a journey that might resonate with Uber employees that have seen the company explode over the past seven years. Though Starbucks faced criticism in the past over issues like gentrification and coffee sourcing, Shultz made changes that earned him recognition as one of the most ethical CEOs.

Scott Forstall

Forstall was pushed out of Apple in amid backlash against a flawed version of the Apple Maps app. Though he's been advising a few companies, Forstall said this week he's not currently working on a new company.

Tony Fadell

Tony Fadell
Getty Images

Fadell is a demanding leader who pushes his employees, according to reporting from The Information. Still, with the iPod, iPhone and Nest Cam on his resume, Fadell is undoubtedly a power player in Silicon Valley. After leaving Nest, owned by Alphabet, in 2016, Fadell told The Verge he would be investing in over 100 start-ups. But his ultimate goal, he said, was to support innovation and leverage his experience — and what better place than Uber?

Adam Messinger

Another Twitter alumnus, Messinger's LinkedIn now lists his official role as "hacker." But until December 2016, he was Twitter's chief technology officer. Messinger also did a stint as a vice president at Oracle, and has a management degree from Stanford Business School.

Nikesh Arora

Nikesh Arora
Getty Images

Arora was Google's chief business officer before becoming heir apparent at SoftBank in Japan. But after SoftBank's Masayoshi Son headed with renewed energy into the company's Vision Fund in 2016, Arora resigned. "He should be CEO of a global business, and I had hoped to hand over the reins of SoftBank to him on my 60th birthday — but I feel my work is not done," Son said at the time. Since then, Arora has been taking time to work on his health and family — and also pen a mini start-up manifesto about maintaining a "high moral compass." Plus Arora is now a pro at doing business in Asia — at a time when Uber's executive in charge of the region was recently ousted.

Sara Clemens

Clemens stepped down this year as Pandora's chief operating officer, after spearheading major acquisitions for the struggling online radio brand. Before that, she worked in venture capital at Greylock Partners, was a vice president of corporate development at LinkedIn, and an executive leading strategy at Microsoft. Since leaving Pandora, her LinkedIn profile says, she's taking time off to travel.

Jeff Immelt

Jeff Immelt, former CEO of GE
Ashlee Espinal | CNBC

Immelt said this month he would step down as chairman and CEO of General Electric, with plans to retire from the company at the end of this year. Immelt, who had to fill the shoes of legendary predecessor Jack Welch, was not always an investor favorite. But he's drawn widespread kudos for leading GE through uncertain times like a portfolio transformation, the 9/11 tragedy and the financial crisis.

David Wyshner

Wyshner resigned from his post as president and CFO Avis Budget to pursue other opportunities, the company announced last month. Though there haven't been reports about where Wysher may have landed, the rental car business certainly has some overlap with Uber: A study last year showed that Uber is now beating out rental cars for business travelers.

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer
Getty Images

There have been plenty of post-mortems on Mayer's time at Yahoo, but another of tech's most prominent female leaders is now potentially on the market. In his book, "Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo," Nicholas Carlson describes how Mayer's tenure at Google gave her talents that Uber might benefit from, including a tight system for hiring and liasing between workers and executive Larry Page.

Matt Zames

JPMorgan Chase announced earlier this month that chief operating officer Matt Zames — widely seen as a successor to CEO Jamie Dimon — would leave the firm. While Uber is in need of a chief financial officer, sources told CNBC Zames wants to run his own company.

Mark Fields

Mark Fields, president and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company.
Mark Neuling | CNBC

Ford announced last month that it would replace Fields as CEO of Ford, amid a more future-looking push at the brand. Still, Fields, who said he would retire from Ford, is no stranger to companies in turnaround, having been with Ford through the financial crises. Plus, he has expertise in manufacturing that could lend itself to Uber's self-driving car initiatives.

Chris Lattner

Lattner is the engineer credited with simplifying Apple's coding language to attract more developers. Lattner is fresh off a short stint at Uber-rival Tesla. "Turns out that Tesla isn't a good fit for me after all," Lattner wrote in a tweet. "I'm interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!"

Andrew Ng

Andrew Ng
Getty Images

Ng is an artificial intelligence expert who has publicly supported cultural changes at Uber. While Ng teaches students, he recently left his day job as chief scientist at Baidu. "I want all of us to have self-driving cars; conversational computers that we can talk to naturally; and healthcare robots that understand what ails us," Ng wrote of his next steps.

— CNBC's Jordan Novet, Evelyn Cheng, Wilfred Frost and John Melloy contributed to this report.