Meg Whitman, just recently the most probable candidate to helm the CEO-less Uber, has now made it clear she has no intentions to leave Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
That leaves the list of candidates full of men. Whomever Uber will pick as its next leader has been met with much anticipation. Many believed a woman planned to take on the job, a notion that not only would have sent a message of empowerment but also given hope that the company's evidently frail approach to treating sexual abuse in the workplace will halt once and for all.
Uber Needs A CEO, Stat: Is Travis Kalanick Making A Return?
Yet suppose that problem is solved, it's all but one item in Uber's to-do list of "things we screwed up and need to fix."
Recode reports Uber's board struggles to move forward and land on a decision. But even more pressing: Travis Kalanick, whom the board sacked from CEO duties, is meddling in the process, with an implied intent to return as the company's CEO. Rumors say Kalanick has told people he plans to "Steve Job" the situation. Jobs, whom Apple fired years back, later returned triumphantly. In his years on the job, Jobs steered Apple to becoming one of the most significant tech firms in the world, a label that still rings true even today with Tim Cook replacing him.
But suffice it to say that Kalanick differs from Jobs. Certainly, both have displayed an aggressive approach to dealing with business, people, decisions, and — more specifically of Jobs — creativity.
Kalanick has been reported as many things, but especially as a cocky and hotheaded executive with a fearless, rule-breaking mentality to go after what he wants. He has been reported arguing heatedly with a driver as two women flank him, his company has reportedly been involved with dubious practices to outrank competition, and many more head-scratching pieces of news have occurred in the past year or so, particularly relating to its sexist practices in the workplace.
So it's no wonder the search for a new leader now proves difficult for Uber's board, simply for the fact that there's so much waiting to be cleaned up.
"If there was no hair on this dog, this would be a no brainer for anyone to take this job," says one person privy to the situation, via Recode. "But this is the hairiest company anyone has ever seen."
Trouble Rises At Uber As Its Board Struggles To Decide On A CEO
With Whitman erased from consideration, that leaves, reports say, four men who are also all CEOs of their own accord. Among the choice is outgoing CEO of General Electric, Jeff Immelt. While he's certainly on the list, he's not on top, sources say.
Still, the top choice will most definitely be male. That's not a problem per se for two reasons: First, sources say Uber will put more women in key decision-making positions, bolstering diversity. Second, the leader's gender doesn't and shouldn't really matter, anyway — but for a company riled with turbulent sexism problems, a woman taking charge is symbolic that things can finally pan out.
While it's true that it's merely a symbolic sentiment, one can also argue that there's nothing "mere" about symbols.
One can say that putting a woman at the top spot carries gravitas. Doing so, especially at Silicon Valley, an industry that carries its own problems of sexism, paints a picture of progress and forward motion.
With all these in mind, Uber's future remains uncertain. Whether a new CEO can steer the whole ship around also remains uncertain. The board has to hope its new leader can undo the grimes left behind by a problematic leadership.