Uber CEO and cofounder Travis Kalanick steps down amid Investor backlash

Posted June 25, 2017

Uber founder Travis Kalanick has resigned his position as Uber's CEO following a shareholder revolt, reports the New York Times. Shareholders announced that they needed new leadership for the company, so Kalanick hardly had a choice but to step down immediately.

Uber is having a rough 2017 and the announcement Tuesday of the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick felt to many like the natural culmination of these events. Kalanick agreed to the demands but will remain on the company's board of directors. Despite Kalanick's explanation, it seemed clear that the CEO was just one of many executives at Uber eager to distance themselves from the increasingly toxic culture and perception.

Uber's board said in a statement that Kalanick had "always put Uber first". The company, valued by investors at $69 billion, also does not have a chief financial officer.

A key moment in Kalanick's fall came in February, when former Uber engineer Susan Fowler posted a personal essay about the year she spent at Uber, writing that she was propositioned by her manager on her first day with an engineering team.

February 23 - Google spinoff Waymo sues Uber, claiming the ride-hailing company stole its self-driving vehicle technology.

As Uber struggles to fix its reputation, it has seen a host of leadership departures. According to Recode, the board had considered former Disney Chief Operating Officer Tom Staggs, Helena Foulkes from CVS and various executives of media and transportation companies.

Outside experts said the only way to change Uber's culture was for Kalanick to step aside. These investors have also been with Uber right from the beginning. It also provides a challenge to a company who desperately needs strong leadership.

At Uber, a new CEO would have fires to fight on several fronts, not least altering the bro culture that has grown up at the firm to the disgust of female employees. (The entire 13-page report and its recommendations, which included minimizing Kalanick's role at the company, can be found here.) In recent weeks, the company has fired more than 20 people, in response to more than 200 complaints.

"I would like to know who's heading the search and how much independence they'll have and how much veto power Travis will have", Harvard's Kanter says.