To say the last few months have been difficult for Uber would be an understatement. Scandals have dominated the news since the start of 2017 and have only gotten worse.
Between the Waymo lawsuit and the legal probe into work culture, Uber has been looking for some way to start turning things around. It looks like the execs have, but one is having to bite the bullet.
Kalanick Takes Leave
It's being reported that Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick has informed staff that he will be taking a leave of absence without a return date. For the time being, the company will be run by a management committee until Kalanick decides to return. When Kalanick returns, he will be stripped of some of his duties and will have to appoint an independent chair to limit his say. This is according to a report being prepared for Uber's board.
This is coming on the heels of former Attorney General Eric Holder's probe into Uber's company culture over accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Holder came back with a list of 47 recommendations to address the problems he found. This included rewriting Uber's cultural values, reducing alcohol use at work events, and a board oversight committee. These were voted on by Uber's board on June 11 and passed unanimously. After the vote, head of business Emil Michael, who was tied to several of the scandals, announced his departure.
"The ultimate responsibility, for where we've gotten and how we've gotten here, rests on my shoulders. For Uber 2.0 to succeed, there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team," Kalanick addressed the situation in a company email.
Can Uber Recover?
While Kalanick taking a leave of absence could be a first step in bouncing back, the question going forward is how much can Uber recover? While Kalanick found himself at the center of several of the controversies, he wasn't the only executive caught up in this mess. Eric Alexander, who was recently fired over his handling of a rape case in India from 2014. Alexander had gotten his hands on the medical files for the case and shared it with multiple execs, including Kalanick, questioning the authenticity of the story. This is just one example of the problems that start at the top.
Then there's the Waymo lawsuit that Uber got hit with earlier this year. The lawsuit claims that former Alphabet employees shared trade secrets with Uber after it purchased Otto, another automated car company founded by the former employees. Uber has been ordered to hand over reports to Waymo pertinent to the case, and it even resulted in the firing of Anthony Levandowski, one of Otto's founders.
That said, Uber has been able to remain successful despite everything going on, but it has opened doors that competition is trying to take advantage of. Lyft has been making up ground on Uber and expanding its own service to more cities in the United States. There's also the possibility that business partners could leave due to the internal strife that has gripped the company. Either way, Uber has a hard road ahead.
Kevin Billings Tech Times editor Kevin Billings is a born geek at heart. Whether it's video games, movies, tv, comics, or tech, you will likely find Kevin there. And he feels gratified in his passions now that geek culture has come to dominate mainstream pop culture.