Uber CEO takes leave of absence amid shakeup

Pablo Tucker
June 22, 2017

"The leadership team, my directs, will be running the company", Kalanick writes in the company-wide email.

CEO Travis Kalanick told employees he was taking an unspecified leave, during which he'll work on his leadership skills.

The announcement comes as former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder released a list of recommendations to improve Uber's toxic culture.

The board's decision to accept all of these recommendations shows it appears to be serious about changing Uber, which has a market value of $68 billion and is often talked about as one of the most promising startups yet to go public.

While "tone at the top, trust, transformation, and accountability" are proposed to be "remedial measures", the first specific recommendation regarding leadership changes is "review and reallocate the responsibilities of Travis Kalanick".

The company shared the 47 recommendations, which were unanimously adopted by the board on Sunday, with employees during an approximately hour-long all-staff meeting at its headquarters in San Francisco.

The findings cited a February blog post from former Uber employee Susan Fowler, who wrote about multiple instances of sexual harassment she said the company had failed to deal with. A separate investigation into company procedures led to the dismissal of more than 20 employees - there were no less than 215 claims of sexual harassment and other "bad behaviors".

He chalked the decision down mostly to giving himself time to grieve for his mother Bonnie, who died in a boating accident three weeks ago on May 26.

"Thank you so much everyone for all of the kind messages today", Fowler, who is now the editor-in-chief of Increment, a publication for payments company Stripe, tweeted.

The recommendations "definitely paint a picture of a company that was out of control and pretty chaotic", says Elizabeth Ames, a senior vice president at the Anita Borg Institute, a nonprofit aimed at advancing women in the technology business.

In addition, the report says that diversity and inclusiveness should be a key value for Uber that's included in management training. Bernard Coleman, the company's head of diversity, should report directly to the CEO or chief operating officer, the report said.

Nodding to Uber's reputation of a hard-partying culture, the memo recommended putting in "clear guidelines" on alcohol use.

In his email written to all Uber employees, Kalanick has highlighted the importance of family and people. While the company has not gone public yet, its valuation has climbed to almost $70 billion.

'Although it is not realistic to prohibit all romantic and intimate relationships in the workplace, it should be emphasized more generally that with respect to such relationships, Uber will not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, ' it said.

At the employee meeting Tuesday morning, Bonderman remarked that if a woman was added to the board that there likely would be more talking, according to a recording obtained by Yahoo.

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