Travis Kalanick, who co-founded Uber in 2009, has been on a leave of absence from the ride-hailing service. When Uber announced Kalanick’s sabbatical last week, the company said he needed time to grieve the recent death of his mother.
At the same time, Uber officials also announced that the company was adopting new policies to improve its workplace environment — including ones meant to help it fight sexual harassment and to change a corporate culture blamed for allowing workplace misconduct to flourish.
Kalanick said there was much to be improved at the company and that he would be working on a team that could lead “Uber 2.0.”
But Uber’s five major investors apparently were working on their own plan to lead the company forward. On Tuesday, they demanded that Kalanick resign immediately, according to The New York Times:
“Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.
“In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward” and obtained by The New York Times, the investors wrote to Mr. Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership. He will remain on Uber’s board of directors.”
Mike Isaac, The Times reporter who broke the story, in an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, said that Kalanick, 40, consulted with at least one Uber board member and after hours of discussions with some of the investors, he agreed to step down.
The paper published a statement from Kalanick:
“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”
Karen Swisher, executive editor of Recode, confirmed that Kalanick resigned. She talked to Morning Edition hosts David Greene and Steve Inskeep about her story posted on the technology news website:
“It’s about time.
“Kalanick had become a giant liability to the car-hailing company for a growing number of reasons, from sketchy business practices to troubling lawsuits to a basic management situation that was akin to really toxic goat rodeo.
“Thus, he had to go, even though some sources said he had the voting power to stay.”
With no clear successor to Kalanick, Uber’s focus now is the search for a new leader. In March, President Jeff Jones quit after less than six months on the job.
The new CEO will have a full plate. Valued at around $70 billion, Uber is one of the largest private companies in the world.
But its reputation has suffered over the harassment reports, and the company has also faced challenges to its labor and competition practices, as well as a lawsuit from Google’s parent company over its self-driving vehicle program.