Uber CEO Kalanick relinquishes power after mutiny

SAN FRANCISCO • Travis Kalanick has resigned from his job leading Uber Technologies Inc, giving up on his effort to hold onto power as a torrent of self-inflicted scandals enveloped him and the global ride-hailing leviathan he co-founded.

Pressure from investors, who’ve poured more than US$15 billion (RM64.5 billion) into a company that has burned through billions, ultimately did what the board could, or would, not: It convinced the 40-year-old CEO to step aside. Five of Uber’s major investors, including Fidelity and Benchmark, asked Kalanick to step aside in a letter to him entitled “Moving Uber Forward”, according to people familiar with the matter.

Kalanick, who grew Uber’s bookings to US$20 billion last year, has played a starring role in most of its controversies.

He called the company “Boob-er”. He argued with a driver about pay in a video published by Bloomberg. He’s said to have questioned whether a female passenger had been raped by a driver who was convicted of the crime in India. Kalanick co-authored corporate values that included “Let Builders Build, Always Be Hustlin’, Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping, and Principled Confrontation.” Uber now plans to scrap many of those tenets on the advice of former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who just concluded an investigation into the cultural failings of a company built in Kalanick’s image.

“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,” Kalanick said in a statement. He will remain on the board of directors, Uber said separately.

The campaign to convince Kalanick to step aside couldn’t have come at a more painful time in his life. His mother died in a freak boating accident in May that severely injured his father Benchmark partner Bill Gurley tweeted: “There will be many pages in the history books devoted to @travisk — very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world.” Representatives for Fidelity and Benchmark didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment outside of normal business hours.

Kalanick began an indefinite leave of absence on June 13 and left the day-to-day management of the company to a committee of 14 top executives. Regional operations heads continue to oversee much of the company’s business.

Uber’s been searching for a COO. With Kalanick’s departure, the company is now also looking for a CEO — a far more desirable position for a business leader. Whoever takes the helm will have to plug a leadership vacuum. — Bloomberg