Nothing has been going Uber’s way over the past few months, and now, its controversial CEO and founder has stepped down. It is believed that Travis Kalanick was facing immense pressure from shareholders and investors to get the company on track or resign.
Letter from the big five Uber investors
Travis Kalanick, who helped found the company in 2009, stepped down from the post of CEO on Tuesday. Citing two people with knowledge of the matter, CNBC claims that Kalanick’s exit came after hours of drama involving investors on Tuesday. According to CNBC, five of Uber’s major investors — venture capital firm Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Fidelity Investments — asked Kalanick to resign immediately.
In a letter demanding the resignation of the CEO, which was obtained by The New York Times, the five investors noted that the ride-hailing service needs a change in leadership. The letter was titled “Moving Uber Forward.” Following the letter, Kalanick reportedly talked with at least one Uber board member and a few of the investors, and then he resigned as CEO. He will, however, remain on Uber’s board.
Announcing his resignation, Kalanick said, “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.”
Uber’s board said in a statement that Kalanick’s resignation as CEO would give the company “room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history.”
Travis Kalanick finally quits, but issues still remain
Even before this drama, Kalanick was on his way out, but for other reasons. Recently, he applied for an indefinite leave of absence, citing the loss of his mother. Of course, the indefinite leave was also related to the immense pressure from all sides to resign. But the investors were not content with this and wanted him to vacate the CEO post. So when the five big investors – holding more than a fourth of Uber’s shares or 40% of the voting power – sent a letter asking for Kalanick’s resignation, the CEO had no other option but to step down.
The troubles for Uber and Kalanick mainly started earlier this year when an employee detailed that she faced sexual harassment at the company. After this, several more complaints were lodged, raising questions about Uber’s work culture. The company is also in a legal tussle with Alphabet’s self-driving car business Waymo, which has accused the ride-haling service of stealing its confidential information. In addition, the company is facing a federal inquiry over the use of controversial software that allowed it to fool regulators.
It must be noted that forcing Kalanick to vacate the position is no guarantee that Uber’s bad days are over, although it surely is a start. Now the board and the investors will have to find someone suitable who is not only willing to take up this challenging role but also has the capability to steer the company away from the culture and growth issues that the ride-haling company is embroiled in.