Uber Does Housekeeping Amongst CEO Strategizing

Uber's search for a new CEO continues as its list of candidates narrows; those left inside work to improve their culture, starting with how managers do employee reviews.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

August 3, 2017

4 Min Read
Uber Does Housekeeping Amongst CEO Strategizing

Intrigue at Uber is showing no signs of winding down with summer as the ride-hailing company continues its narrowing CEO search, updates its employee performance reviews and considers the possibility of ousted CEO Travis Kalanick's "Steve Jobs-ing" his way back in.

Uber is continuing its months-long process of rehabbing its image, a process which began in February when former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote a blog post exposing a toxic culture of sexism, retaliation and discrimination. A huge part of its success hinges on finding a suitable CEO to replace Kalanick, who was recently asked to take an indefinite leave of absence from the company he founded. (See Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims, Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO and Uber Hopes Holder Reform Will Stop Implosion .)

Uber is said to be appointing a new CEO in the coming weeks, but its list of candidates is dwindling, down to just a few men. Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, considered a serious possibility, took her name out of the ring this week, Tweeting that she is fully committed to HPE and that "Uber's CEO will not be Meg Whitman."

Other potential candidates considered reportedly included Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, General Motors’ Mary Barra, EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall and Bank of America's Anne Finucane, but all were either not interested in the job or didn't ultimately end up working out. Sources now tell Recode that the search is down to just four male candidates, all of which are current CEOs and only one of which is a person of color. Outgoing GE CEO Jeff Immelt is reportedly on this short list. Uber is also still in need of a CFO and COO and is seeking to fill the positions with women. (See Uber Drains the Swamp, but Is It Too Deep?)

At the same time, the Uber board is grappling with -- though not addressing to media -- rumors that Kalanick doesn't plan to stay away for long. The disgraced CEO is reportedly telling people he plans to "Steve Jobs it" and return to the company he founded, but was ousted from, to regain his/its glory. Incidentally, his continued involvement on Uber's board and perhaps the threat of his return is one reason the company is having a hard time pinning down a new CEO.

Join Women in Comms for its upcoming networking breakfast in Denver, Colorado, on September 28 where we'll be tackling the question of, "what's the matter with the tech industry?"

Meanwhile, the new executives that Uber did get in the C-suite are already busy changing things up, starting with how they review their employees. Uber Operations and Logistics Manager Nicole Cuellar tells TechCrunch that the company is no longer using employee ratings and rankings in its review process. Employees complained that the previous ways of reviewing employees were so subjective they left room for manager biases to prejudice the process. Now they will use concrete goals and a transparent process to hold each other accountable. Cueller tells the blog that in addition to personal goals, they also are including a citizenship goal aimed at doing good for someone else inside or outside the company.

Uber's recently appointed SVP of Leadership and Strategy Frances Frei, who joined the company in June, also tells TechCrunch she has been busy conducting feedback sessions with 9,000 of Uber's employees, including 3,000 managers, learning their goals and ideas to improve the company culture. (See Culture in Crisis: What's Next for Uber & Tech?)

Uber says it has increased some salaries to ensure equal pay across the board and is working to ensure everything it does is fair and equitable.

This, of course, is largely because everything it does is now under scrutiny by its employees, investors, board and the rest of the tech world, which is waiting to see if it can dig itself out of its gigantic hole.

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

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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