Amidst a tough time for Uber, CEO Travis Kalanick announced to take a leave of absence, without any specific return date. The ride-hailing company will be run by a management committee as it tries to navigate a wave of scandals.
Kalanick notes that “During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly. It’s hard to put a timeline on this – it may be shorter or longer than we might expect.”
A board representative said the board had “unanimously voted to adopt all recommendations” from former U.S attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. who had been hired to probe into the company’s workplace culture, Reuters reported. Holder’s advice included ordering the company’s embattled chief executive, Travis Kalanick, to step down temporarily and forcing out Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president of business and a key Kalanick ally within the company, according to multiple news reports. The board consists of seven voting members, including Kalanick himself.
Stepping down as CEO, even temporarily, would be a major setback for Kalanick, who founded the company in 2009 and has been running it ever since – despite mounting criticism over the hard-charging office environment he helped create.
Last week, Uber fired 20 employees amid an investigation by outside lawyers into hundreds of claims of alleged misconduct. Uber also fired it’s APAC Business Head Eric Alexander for obtaining the Delhi rape case victim’s medical reports. Alexander had reportedly shared the woman’s records with Kalanick and Michael.
Below is the letter Kalanick sent to Uber employees:
For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber. Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.
The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders. There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve. 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.
During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly.
It’s hard to put a timeline on this – it may be shorter or longer than we might expect. Tragically losing a loved one has been difficult for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes. The incredible outpouring of heartfelt notes and condolences from all of you have kept me strong but almost universally they have ended with ‘How can I help?’. My answer is simple. Do your life’s work in service to our mission. That gives me time with family. Put people first, that is my mom’s legacy. And make Uber 2.0 real so that the world can see the inspired work all of you do, and the inspiring people that make Uber great.
See you soon,