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It’s official: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is out.
He will be taking a leave of absence from the company he’s been running since 2008. There is no date for his return but if or when he does, he will be stripped of many of his responsibilities. In addition, he will have an “independent chair” (like a professional nanny) to limit his influence.
This comes after the board of directors met Sunday to review the findings of their own special investigator – Eric Holder, Jr.
As in the former attorney general of the United States. That Eric Holder.
Hiring someone like him shows just how seriously Uber’s board has taken its current corporate culture problems which involve:
- A rapid departure of senior executives,
- 20 people being fired last week for sexual harassment,
- A deep (and long running) labor dispute with drivers, and
- Its ongoing tussles with other tech companies like Apple and Google.
On Sunday, the board listened to Holders findings. They ultimately adopted all of his recommendations unanimously.
Although Kalanick’s leadership style is the real cause for his leave of absence, the official line is that he is leaving for family reasons. It’s true that his mom recently died in a boating accident and his father is in the hospital. Those are extremely difficult challenges for anyone to endure. But beyond that, he is unable to effectively lead the company any further. Despite an enormous valuation for a private company, the shareholders were concerned he could not pivot to a better corporate culture and stability.
More Changes Than Just an Uber CEO Swap
Meanwhile, Uber is poised for growth into new sectors beyond traditional ridesharing. The company has entered the fast-growing healthcare sector, an arena that others such as Amazon are looking to disrupt. With Kalanick’s start-up culture ushered out at Uber, a new wave of leaders can plot a course for the tech giant.
Holder’s additional recommendations were presented at a Tuesday staff meeting. They include more board oversight, an overhaul of Uber’s corporate culture, reduced use of alcohol at corporate events, and a new policy on sexual conduct.
A new Uber CEO will not be immediately appointed. Instead, the company will be run by a management committee during an interim period. The company is also actively recruiting a new chief operating officer who will share some of the Uber CEO’s day-to-day operational partnership duties.