Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick will step down as CEO, as the car-hailing giant — valued at close to $70 billion — tries to recover from series of scandals that have erupted on his watch.
Kalanick’s resignation, first reported by the New York Times, came after several big investors in Uber demanded his exit. “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 a statement issued by the company late on Tuesday.
Kalanick will remain on Uber’s board. The San Francisco-based company has raised more than $11 billion. The investors that demanded Kalanick resign were Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, according to reports.
Kalanick last week had announced that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence; the exec’s mother died in a boating accident in May.
Under Kalanick, Uber has been accused of breeding a corporate culture hostile to women, and the company has been targeted by multiple sexual harassment complaints. Last week, TPG partner David Bonderman resigned from the Uber board after remarking in a meeting that more women joining the company’s board would probably lead to “more talking.”
Uber’s business practices also have drawn scrutiny. The U.S. Department of Justice is probing the company’s use of software for its ride-hailing app designed to deceive local regulators in markets where Uber didn’t have permission to operate. In addition, Uber has been sued by Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving car spinoff, which alleges Uber stole its intellectual property.
Several top Uber executives have exited the company in recent months, including president Jeff Jones, who said that his beliefs about leadership were “inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber.”
Uber, trying to contain the damage, enlisted former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate charges that company execs failed to properly deal with sexual harassment allegations. Among the recommendations from Holder, who now works at law firm Covington & Burling: that the Uber board should “review and reallocate the responsibilities of Travis Kalanick” to hand off certain functions to other senior management.
Earlier this month, Uber hired former Apple Music marketing exec Bozoma Saint John as chief brand officer. In an interview with Variety, Saint John — asked about the sexual harassment and discrimination issues at Uber — said, “I plan to be a very involved participant in the internal culture — very much the same way I was at Apple. I’ve always been part of the internal groups and advocacies for women and people of color at every company I’ve been at.”