Uber’s embattled CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from the ride-sharing company he helped found in 2009, following a “shareholder revolt” led by some of Uber’s most prominent investors, according to the New York Times.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that Kalanick has stepped down in the face of pressure from five of Uber’s largest investors, including Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Fidelity Investments – all of whom demanded Kalanick’s resignation in a letter titled “Moving Uber Forward”.
Kalanick said: “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.”
According to the Guardian, the resignation came just one week after Kalanick began an indefinite leave of absence amid efforts to bring about wholesale change of Uber’s corporate culture.
Kalanick will continue to hold a position on Uber’s board of directors, according to a statement from the board given to TechCrunch. “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber. By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history. We look forward to continuing to serve with him on the board.”
Kalanick said in a letter to Uber employees: “I need to take some time off from the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.” This followed the sudden death of his mother in a boating accident.
Following his leave, Kalanick had put day-to-day leadership in the hands of several employees who had reported directly to him. With Kalanick’s resignation, Uber is now missing a CEO, COO, CFO, CMO and a host of other critical high-level positions following months of seemingly endless executive departures.
Though Uber had long had a reputation for defying rules and regulations, perhaps most damaging were the numerous reports of the company facing a crisis in February when a former employee published a viral blog post describing a work place rife with gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
Uber enlisted former US attorney general Eric Holder to conduct an investigation into the company’s workplace culture, the results of which were released a week before Kalanick’s resignation.
Uber continues to face challenges on multiple fronts, including an intellectual property lawsuit by Google parent company Alphabet that could pose an existential threat to Uber’s future. Uber is also under investigation for its use of a programme designed to deceive law enforcement in cities where its service was barred.
In his analysis of the situation, Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter in Uber’s home city San Francisco, stated: “Surely the most dramatic fall from grace the start-up world has ever seen, a scalp so big it will have chief executives across this city sitting bolt upright, and thinking: ‘If Travis can get booted out of Uber... no-one is safe.’
“What started out as a PR inconvenience has left the company without... five top officers. Uber is in tatters, engulfed by its own aggression.
“Mr Kalanick embodied his company’s prevailing attitude: success at all costs. It saw Uber dominate the ride-sharing world, his chutzpah enabling the company to attract investment so effectively that last year Uber alone raised more money than the entire UK start-up scene.
“But in doing so he didn’t play fair. He created a company that deceived local regulators, neglected the well-being of employees, wound up drivers, troubled investors, obtained a rape victim’s medical records and allegedly stole trade secrets from a rival.
“All this time Uber’s investors will have been weighing things up. What’s more risky to their investment: removing the man who made Uber what it is, or keeping him on? For the first time it’s become the latter – and Mr Kalanick is out the door.”