Thursday 27 July 2017

Investor pressure forces Uber co-founder Kalanick to resign

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick said he had accepted the investors’ ‘request’ to step aside
Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick said he had accepted the investors’ ‘request’ to step aside

Heather Somerville

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, co-founder of one of the most influential technology companies of its generation, has resigned under pressure from investors after a string of setbacks.

Kalanick's departure caps a tumultuous period for the world's largest taxi firm which has revolutionised the industry and challenged regulations worldwide.

The 40-year-old's pugnacious style largely defined Uber's approach and helped it become a transportation colossus valued at $68bn, the largest private firm backed by venture capitalists in the world.

But that brashness has also been blamed for scandals this year, from the unearthing of a culture of bullying and discrimination at Uber to a US Department of Justice federal investigation and a high-stakes lawsuit filed by Alphabet that threatens Uber's self-driving car ambitions.

"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 said in an email to employees that was provided to Reuters. Kalanick's departure widens an already gaping hole at the top of Uber which has no chief operating officer, chief financial officer or general counsel at the moment. For now, 14 people who reported to Kalanick are running Uber.

Kalanick faced increased scrutiny for a culture of sexism and rule-breaking at the company he helped start in 2009. After a video showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had complained about falling wages was released in February, the CEO made a public apology and promised to seek "leadership help".

Ultimately, it was some of Uber's main investors who forced Kalanick out, according to a source familiar with the matter. Venture capital firm Benchmark, whose partner Bill Gurley is one of Uber's largest shareholders and sits on its board, plus investors First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, all pressed Kalanick to quit. (Reuters)

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