Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation comes after almost half a year of turbulence in the company. Kalanick has quit the company he founded owing to a series of scandals and missteps following which investors, as well as the public, started to lose faith. The resignation from Uber Technologies was under pressure from five of the taxi hailing service’s biggest investors, the New York Times reported. This announcement envelopes a tumultuous few months in which the company suffered, what appeared to be an unending string of scandals and controversies. According to the NYT report, Kalanick was sent a letter on Tuesday which demanded a step down from the post of Chief Executive. While, the investors who sent the letter, reportedly have only around 40 percent of voting power in Uber, but that itself seemed enough that Kalanick was not able to ignore.
Meanwhile, since Kalanick is a major shareholder in the company, he might keep on wielding quite a significant power from the sidelines. However, Kalanick said in a statement to the NYT, “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,” Currently, the company’s biggest concern is its business situation, as it had lost $2.8 billion in last year itself and another $708 million in the first quarter this year 2017.
Kalanick has been infamous for his ruthless style of working. Additionally, there were continual uncomfortable reports about the issues within the company, including organisational sexism. Reports of fighting with drivers regarding the conditions, other companies and authorities had also surfaced. All these reasons together precipitated to Kalanick’s resignation. Here is a list of 5 major scandals and controversies which led to Travis Kalanicks ouster:
1. Early this year, Uber’s former engineer, Susan Fowler Rigetti posted a 3000-word blog where she put allegations of multiple incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company. Fowler had written that the human resources department at Uber had not done enough to address such issue. She had added that there were more women who had experienced similar things at the company. Following this, Uber had to set up an independent panel to look into Fowler’s accusations. The panel led by former attorney general Eric Holder delivered its findings to the company’s board this month, where it confirmed that the firm had significant problems.
2. Tech giant Google’s autonomous vehicle unit Waymo had sued Uber for and alleged theft of technical details for an important sensor designed by Waymo itself. In May this year, the company had to fire Anthony Levandowski, a famous Uber engineer. Levandowski had left Waymo in 2016 to start an autonomous car company, which was eventually bought by Uber for a reported price of nearly $700 million. He was reportedly fired from the company as he had invoked the Fifth Amendment instead of giving the documents which he allegedly stole from the former company. The case even went to federal prosecutors.
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3. In February this year, a video had emerged which showed Kalanick fighting with an Uber driver named Fawzi Kamel. In the video, Kalanick was visibly lashing out at Kamel. Kamel had reportedly asked Kalanick certain queries regarding cab rates and prices at the end of the trip. Kalanick could be heard saying in the video, “Some people do not like to take responsibility (for themselves).” Later, the Uber CEO vowed to ‘grow up’ and said he was ‘ashamed’ of his behaviour.
4. Uber, in May 2017, had said that it had mistakenly underpaid drivers in New York City for two and a half years. This mistake reportedly cost the company millions of dollars. From March through May, this was the 2nd instance, where the cab riding service company had to acknowledge that it had deprived drivers of the deserved earnings.
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5. Greyball: The company is undergoing a massive criminal investigation, where it allegedly designed a software called Greyball which could help them evade municipal taxi rules. Uber, basically found out accounts of government officials on their smartphones and gave them a mobile app which showed fake data and they could not be able to call cabs. Uber claimed that they did this to find out unlicensed cab services from local bodies. Uber then reportedly said that the program had been used to prevent “fraudulent users” from violating its terms.