Business Transformation

Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is caving to investor pressure, announcing late Tuesday that he is resigning from the company he founded in 2009.

Kalanick agreed to take a leave of absence from the company last week to grieve the loss of his mother and let the company work to transform the troubled company culture instilled under his direction, but investors weren't satisfied. Five, including Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, demanded his permanent ouster, according to the New York Times, which broke the story. Kalanick will continue to serve on Uber's board. (See Uber Hopes Holder Reform Will Stop Implosion and Kalanick & Michael Out, Martello In at Uber?)

The board said in a statement: "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."

And, Kalanick wrote in a note to employees: "I never thought I would be writing this. As you all know, I love Uber more than anything in the world, but at this difficult moment in my personal life, I have accepted a group of investors' request to step aside, so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight. I will continue to serve on the board, and will be available in any and all ways to help Uber become everything we've dreamed it would be."

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Kalanick's departure only widens the void in Uber's leadership, which has been dwindling as investigations into the company -- valued at $70 billion -- have progressed. Its list of job vacancies now includes CEO, COO (a new position it's looking to add), general counsel, senior vice president of engineering, CMO, board chair and at least 20 others after a recent round of firings. (See Uber Drains the Swamp, but Is It Too Deep? and Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims.)

Uber's investors also reportedly asked that the company fill two of the three empty board seats with "truly independent directors," and for Kalanick to support a board-led search committee for his replacement and to immediately hire an experienced CFO. The clock is ticking for the company, which also announced yesterday it will enable in-app tipping in an effort to appease its drivers. Uber has promised to spend the next 180 days making meaningful changes to the driving experience to make driving "more flexible and less stressful, giving [drivers] earnings and support [they] can depend on."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

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