Uber chief goes on leave, vows to work on Travis 2.0
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has announced that he’s going on leave without specifying a return date. Uber’s board had accepted on Sunday all 47 recommendations made by a law firm after investigating allegations of sexual harassment and mismanagement of the ride-hailing company. The top recommendation was for Kalanick to be divested of some of his responsibilities, which will likely be given to the new COO that Uber seeks to appoint.
In an email to employees, Kalanick spoke of the need to take time off to work on Travis 2.0.
“For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve,” Kalanick said in the email.
Uber has been buffeted by one scandal after another, which has led to a spate of senior executives having to leave the company, including Kalanick’s confidante and Uber’s head of business, Emil Michael.
Rape victim’s medical records
Kalanick and Michael were reported to have seen and discussed medical records of a rape victim in India brought to them by Uber’s Asia Pacific business head, Eric Alexander, who is also no longer with the company. The three of them were reported to have raised the prospect that their main competitor in India, Ola, was behind the incident to sabotage Uber.
The handling of this incident came up during the investigation by law firm Covington & Burley led by former US attorney-general Eric Holder. The investigation had been ordered following a blog post in February by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, in which she alleged sexual harassment and gender bias.
Between then and the disclosure on Uber executives’ handling of the Indian rape victim’s medical records, the company has had to deal with other serious cases, including the short-changing of drivers for years and a criminal investigation into alleged trade secret theft from Google’s Waymo, related to self-driving technology.
The Covington recommendations go into great detail on improving the cultural values in the company. This includes limiting the use of alcohol at events and prohibiting intimate relationships between employees and their bosses. It recommends an independent chairperson of the board and the setting up of an oversights committee.
This sets a point of reference for how Uber is managed in the future.
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