Amid Tumult at Uber, Bill Gurley Is Said to Be Leaving Board

Pablo Tucker
June 22, 2017

Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] Chief Executive Travis Kalanick, co-founder of one of the most influential technology companies of its generation, resigned on Tuesday under pressure from investors after a string of setbacks.

March 24: Gabi Holzwarth, who dated Kalanick for several years, revealed to The Information that she, Kalanick, and five Uber executives who had travelled to Seoul in 2014 visited an escort bar while there. "We look forward to continuing to serve with him on the board". The report said Uber has no replacement for Kalanick, an especially worrisome development given the company now has no financial or operating chiefs and is missing other key executives as well. Following two outside investigations, Uber fired 20 employees and agreed to reform everything from its drug and alcohol policy to its board structure. One of those people calling for Kalanick to go was one of the company's biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber's board.

Gurley has been an advocate of thoughtful spending and public market accountability on his blog, "Above the Crowd", a sharp contrast to Uber's position as one of the most highly valued private start-ups.

As Uber faced a series of embarrassing disclosures, he was captured on a dashcam berating and cursing at a driver who had complained about earnings, in a video that went viral.

But the shareholder letter indicates that his taking time off was not enough for some investors who have pumped millions of dollars into the ride-hailing company, which has seen its valuation swell to almost $70 billion. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber.

The authors said Kalanick had become "a giant liability to the car-hailing company for a growing number of reasons, from sketchy business practices to troubling lawsuits to a basic management situation that was akin to really toxic goat rodeo".

Behavior at the male-dominated company didn't seem to matter.

There was no specific incident over the past week to make investors decide Kalanick taking a leave of absence wasn't enough, the person with knowledge of the situation said.

Kalanick's decision "was a surprise to everyone", a second Uber spokesman said.

Uber's board confirmed the move yesterday, saying in a statement that Kalanick is taking time to heal from the death of his mother in a boating accident "while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber's history".

Uber's board, meanwhile, said that Kalanick had always put Uber first. Bloomberg earlier reported that Mr. Trujillo was joining Uber's board and that Mr. Gurley was in talks to leave.

Not everyone was applauding Kalanick as he left the building. In addition, Uber has been dealing with an intellectual property lawsuit from Waymo, the self-driving vehicle business that operates under Google's parent company, and a federal inquiry into a software tool that Uber used to sidestep some law enforcement.

Not long after, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post describing her experiences of sexism at Uber.

Even some of Kalanick's staunchest allies have found fault with how Uber has been run.

Kalanick's resignation opens questions of who may take over Uber, especially since the company has been so molded in his image.

Industry watchers on Wednesday suggested everyone from former Disney COO Thomas Staggs to former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer as possible replacements.

Other reports by iNewsToday