The CEO of Uber, one of the world’s most disruptive internet companies, has resigned. He has finally let go the leadership of a company he co-founded in 2009, which is now valued at US $70 billion, more than any other privately held tech startup in the world.
The resignation of Travis Kalanick, according to a report on New York Times, follows demands this week by major investors in the company that he step down.
Over the past several months Uber has been dogged by a string of sexual harassment scandals, some leadership blunders, and just PR disasters which have mostly all been attributed to what’s being referred to as Uber’s “bro workplace culture”.
Kalanick, who is estimated to be worth $6.3 billion, however remains on the board of directors.
The former CEO said in a statement to New York Times:
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,
While Uber had many PR issues traditionally, events starting in February accelerated the chaos. Here’s a summary of those events up to this month.
- February 2017:
- A former female engineer wrote a long blog post titled “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber” accusing the company of a sexual harassment culture by management.
- Google’s self-driving car company, Waymo, filed a lawsuit accusing Uber of stealing its intellectual property after Uber acquired a company started by an ex-Waymo employee. Uber eventually had to fire the engineer they hired clearly giving credence to the accusation.
- March 2017:
- It was revealed that Uber had developed software called Greyball to deceive police in cities where the Uber service was not allowed.
- In a case of of PR blundering, Travis Kalanic was recorded on camera insulting an Uber driver after the driver had accused him and his company of making changes that were hitting driver revenues.
- It was revealed that in 2014, Kalanick and other senior Uber executives had gone to an escort (prostitute) bar in South Korea. This happened in the company of a female executive who felt really uncomfortable about the situation and later complained to HR about it.
- April 2017:
- News came out that Uber was unethically using software to spy on its competitor, Lyft.
- May 2017:
- Uber disclosed that it had underpaid some of its drivers by taking a bigger chunk of the revenue from rides than it was supposed to. The company resolved to pay the drivers the money.
- A sexual harassment investigation resulted in the firing of 20 employees.
- June 2017:
- Reports revealed that Uber had inappropriately obtained the medical records of a woman who had allegedly been raped by an Uber driver in India. Apparently, Uber had skepticism about the genuineness of the rape and thought it was their competition trying to give Uber a bad name. The Asia executive who did this was only fired after journalists questioned the company about it.