Uber has been sailing rough waters and its turmoil has now culminated with the resignation of its CEO, Travis Kalanick.
Amid mounting pressure from investors, Kalanick decided to step down from his position at the helm of the company he co-founded and drove into a global force on the ride-hailing scene.
Kalanick had already taken an indefinite leave of absence last week, partly from personal reasons after his mother died in a boating accident last month. At the same time, the move also aimed to quell a shareholder revolt over his leadership. As Kalanick took an indefinite leave, the daily management of the company fell in the hands of more than 10 executives.
Uber has been embroiled in a series of scandals and troubles ranging from a controversial workplace culture allegedly brimming with sexual harassment and discrimination to a legal dispute with Waymo, an executive exodus, and other issues.
Following the departure of several executives in recent months, Uber was also struggling to handle the sexual harassment allegations brought against it. To that extent, the company hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to assess the matter and advise on a course of action. Holder announced his recommendations last week and, among other things, he suggested boosting the independence of the board, increasing its oversight, and reassessing Kalanick's responsibilities.
Many argued that Uber's workplace culture and leadership style were a direct reflection of Kalanick, who is seen as an aggressive leader willing to do whatever it takes to push his company to the top.
Just back in March, after a video surfaced showing the CEO in a heated argument with an Uber driver, Kalanick said that he needs to grow up and seek "leadership help."
Five shareholders had been asking for Kalanick's resignation to change Uber's leadership, and it now looks like they got what they wanted. Although he will no longer be the CEO, Kalanick will remain on Uber's board of directors.
Travis Kalanick Resigns As Uber CEO
"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," Kalanick says in a statement, as cited by The New York Times.
Kalanick's resignation deepens Uber's crisis at a time when it's already struggling. The company already had several executive positions left vacant, including finance, operations, business, and marketing. Uber is essentially in a worrisome leadership crisis that accentuates now with the resignation of the CEO, and it will be interesting to see who will replace Kalanick.
Uber's board said that Kalanick always prioritized the company, and his resignation as CEO will allow Uber to start a new chapter in its history. The company has reportedly been looking at several top veterans in the business to fill the CEO position, and Kalanick's resignation may make it easier to appoint a permanent chief executive.
In addition to Kalanick's resignation, however, the shareholders also requested enhanced oversight of Uber's board by hiring "truly independent directors" to fill two of the three empty seats on the board. The shareholders also demanded that Uber hire an experienced CFO immediately, and asked Kalanick to help the search committee find a suitable CEO.