Uber has become a household name in many parts of the United States (and world) in the eight years since its birth. It's become synonymous with hailing a ride in the places I go to, and the company has even severely supplanted the cab service in my hometown. But unless you've had your head under a rock in the last several months, you should know that all is not well in the upper management at Uber. Yesterday, the CEO of the ride-sharing service, Travis Kalanick, was pressured the resign amidst strong pressure from some of the company's top investors.
Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Fidelity Investments (who all together own a quarter of the company's stock and have 40% of the voting power) were the shareholders who called for Kalanick to step down. In a letter obtained by The New York Times, the investors stated that Mr. Kalanick must immediately resign and that Uber was due for a change in leadership. After some consultation, he agreed and will remain as a member of the board.
This all comes on the heels of the shady things that Uber has done in the last few years and months. Accusations of a toxic corporate culture, sexual harassment, discrimination, intellectual property infringement, and less-than-ethical dealings with law enforcement have all likely led to Kalanick being asked to step down. Since a company's culture trickles all the way down from the top-level management, Kalanick recently stated that he would take an indefinite leave of absence to "work on himself" and to grieve for his recently deceased mother. The investors' letter said that this was not enough.
The question now becomes: Who will take the spot as Uber's new CEO? Part of the investors' letter included a demand for Kalanick to support a board-led search for a new chief executive officer, a call to hire a more experienced CFO, and a request to fill two of three empty board seats with "truly independent directors."
Regardless of your opinion of Travis Kalanick, you have to admit that this is a lot to take at once. It will be interesting to see what happens to Uber in the coming months.
- The New York Times