Uber CEO to take leave, leadership team to run company

Uber was bracing for more turmoil – with some news outlets saying Kalanick himself may take a leave of absence – as a report prepared by former US attorney general Eric Holder was to be given to employees June 13. — AFP

Employees must follow the "instructions of Travis Kalanick", according to the buyback agreement, "with respect to any and all matters" that are submitted to a shareholder vote. The trouble has long-term implications, too.

Driver screening. Questions about Uber's screening process have emerged amid assaults by drivers.

Uber must hire people who "don't have the harassment state of mind", Schipani said.

"The thing about the autonomous auto is that it's an ecosystem that's going to make it", says Evan Rawley, who studies competitive strategy and organization at Columbia Business School. On Monday, Lyft announced a $25 million investment from Jaguar-Land Rover.

But bad news cycles are bad news for collaborations. Tragically losing a loved one has been hard for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes. "Who runs a company like this?" said one person. It has no experience building cars, for example, and no intention of figuring it out.

Alpern does envision a way for Kalanick to still guide Uber, but it would require the CEO to lead by example in a genuine way that makes employees believe the shift is for real. Uber is fighting Alphabet's Waymo in court over self-driving auto technology.

Uber will also create stricter guidelines for what's acceptable in the office.

Then there are the roiling culture issues. Susan Fowler posted a blog in February that detailed harassment during the year she spent at Uber, writing that she was propositioned by her manager on her first day with an engineering team. The announcement comes as former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder released a list of recommendations to improve Uber's toxic culture.

Uber's story is the stuff of Silicon Valley legend, rising fast in eight years from bootstrapped local favorite to global phenomenon valued at close to $70 billion.

He's a "scrappy entrepreneur", she said during the call, but one who needed to bring "changes in himself and in the way he leads". Well, as it turns out and keeping with Uber's mode: Travis Kalanick does for the next hour at least. He places the blame on the directors, particularly investor Bill Gurley, for his removal, accusing them of not having the backbone to stand by him amid what he sees as largely mischaracterized and inconsequential controversies, the people said. This is particularly valuable in the testing phase of autonomous vehicle deployment, because Uber has a big, worldwide network in place. Willingly or under duress, he has indeed been assembling a stronger leadership team, one whose composition is pointedly aimed at correcting the cultural diseases that have plagued Uber to this point.

Misusing its data isn't new to Uber, however.

But stumbles at this stage in the game could snowball.

Executives at Uber had looked to the Holder report as a likely turning point in their efforts to put the company's past indiscretions behind them and provide a road map for the future. When autonomous vehicles are up and running, all advantages disappear.

Kalanick had not decided what to do as of this morning, said those sources, although he appeared to be leaning toward some kind of break.

Uber does not file full financial reports but indicated its bookings previous year doubled to $20 billion, with net revenue totaling $6.5 billion and an adjusted net loss of $2.8 billion not counting China operations that it sold. That actually could be good news for Uber's partnerships.

Another executive is out as Uber scrambles to fix its company culture and reputation.

"It's important to remember that Uber's problems are diverse, including the mistreatment of employees, secret programs used to get around regulators and a less than stellar relationship with its drivers", says Jeremy Robinson-Leon, principal at corporate communications firm Gordon Group. "Uber should consider adopting a zero-tolerance policy for substantiated complaints of discrimination and harassment, without regard to whether an employee is a "high performer" or a long-term employee", the report reads.


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