Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns under investor pressure
Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] Chief Executive Travis Kalanick, co-founder of one of the most influential technology companies of its generation, resigned on Tuesday under pressure from investors after a string of setbacks. Kalanick's departure caps a tumultuous period for the world's largest ride-services company that has revolutionized the taxi industry and challenged transportation regulations worldwide, Reuters reported.
The resignation sent shockwaves through Silicon Valley and left Uber's board of directors with the problem of finding a dynamic leader who also has a steady hand needed to heal Uber after a bruising six months.
"The person who still best personifies Uber's potential is the person who left Tuesday night," said Bradley Tusk, an Uber investor and adviser. "But it's not like he really could stay without it being brutally bad for the company."
Kalanick's pugnacious style largely defined Uber's approach and helped it become a transportation colossus valued at $68 billion, the largest private firm backed by venture capitalists in the world.
But that brashness has also been blamed for a string of scandals this year, from the unearthing of a culture of sexism and bullying at Uber to a U.S. Department of Justice federal investigation and a high-stakes lawsuit filed by Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) autonomous car division, Waymo, that threatens Uber's self-driving car ambitions.
"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," Kalanick said in an email to employees that was seen by Reuters.
Kalanick's departure as CEO widens an already gaping hole at the top of Uber which has no chief financial officer, head of engineering or general counsel at the moment. For now, 14 people who reported to Kalanick are running Uber.
It is not clear who will be Uber's new CEO, but the next leader will likely be tasked with making the company profitable and paving the way to an initial public offering, said executive recruiters.
"They need someone who is willing to walk into this mess, and be the single adult in this room for awhile until the rest of the executive team is in place," said Steve Nilsen, a partner at executive search firm Boyden.
The pursuit of a CEO puts the more than three-months-old search for a chief operating officer on hold, according to a source close to the board. The CEO must be hired first, the person said, and he or she will be key to figuring out the remaining positions to fill. Uber declined comment.
Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has been identified as a target in media reports, but a source close to Sandberg told Reuters she plans to stay at the online social media company.