Uber founder Travis Kalanick has resigned as the ride-sharing app’s chief executive officer in the face of shareholder outrage over company culture.
Mr Kalanick, who helped found Uber around eight years ago and was instrumental in growing it into a transportation behemoth, announced last week that he would be taking a leave of absence for an unspecified period of time.
He said that he needed time off to grieve for his mother, who had died in a May boating accident, while also admitting that he was responsible for Uber’s current situation and needs to become a better leader.
On Wednesday the company confirmed that he would not be returning as CEO.
That announcement came after former US Attorney Eric Holder released a list of recommendations to improve Uber’s culture, which included relieving Mr Kalanick of some of his leadership responsibilities.
Citing people familiar with the situation, the New York Times reported that Mr Kalanick had agreed to resign following hours of drama with some of the company’s biggest investors, including venture capital firm Benchmark. One of the partners at Benchmark, Bill Gurley, sits on Uber’s board.
In a letter delivered to the CEO in Chicago and signed by Benchmark and four other major investors, they reportedly demanded he quit.
A spokesperson for Uber told The Independent: “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber. By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history.”
In a statement cited by the New York Times, Mr Kalanick said: “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.”
In recent months, the ride-sharing company has frequently been pointed to as an example of what has culturally gone wrong with Silicon Valley’s booming startup scene.
A former engineer at Uber, Susan Fowler, posted a blog online in February that detailed sexual harassment during the year she spent at the firm, sparking global outrage.
Ms Fowler wrote that she was propositioned by her manager. She said that she reported him to human resources, but was told that he would not be punished because he was a “high performer”.
That incident prompted Mr Holder’s investigation, during which more than 200 interviews were conducted with former and current employees.
Uber has since also made changes to its HR operations and launched a 24-hour hotline for employees. Earlier in June it sacked 20 people, including some managers. It is understood to be searching for new executives to professionalise its workplace.
Last week Uber director David Bonderman resigned after being accused of having made a sexist remark at a meeting to discuss how the group can transform its culture amid that probe into harassment and discrimination.
During the meeting, fellow board member Arianna Huffington reportedly spoke to employees about the importance of adding more women to the board of directors.
“There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” Ms Huffington said, according to Reuters.
In response, David Bonderman reportedly quipped: “Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”