In the wake of a damning internal investigation that prompted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to take an immediate leave of absence from the company he co-founded, that temporary break has been made permanent.
Kalanick officially stepped down as Uber CEO on June 20, and according to The New York Times, his exit was the result of what amounted to a revolt by investors.
In what sounds like a movie plot, Times insiders describe hours of drama leading up to the ultimate decision to oust Kalanick.
Five investors demanded that Kalanick hit the road for good — including a partner of venture capital Benchmark, one of Uber’s biggest shareholders — in a letter titled “Moving Uber Forward” that was delivered to Kalanick in Chicago, those familiar with the matter told the Times. That letter indicated that shareholders weren’t happy with him just taking some time off, not after all the millions of dollars the’y’ve invested in the company at stake.
The investors ordered Kalanick to leave immediately, writing that it was time for a change in leadership. Kalanick consulted with at least one board member, the Times says, and talked for a long time with some investors before capitulating.
Though he’ll no longer be CEO, he’ll remain on Uber’s board of directors.
“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 told the Times.
The board said in a statement to the Times that the former CEO “always put Uber first” and maintained that his exit will give Uber the space it needs to “fully embrace” the next chapter in its history.
The shareholders also asked in the letter for improved oversight of the company’s board, by way of giving two of three empty board seats to “truly independent directors.” They also ordered Kalanick to support a board-led search committee in charge of hiring his replacement, and demanded that the company hire a chief financial officer pronto.
It’s been a rough month for Uber and Kalanick, with a seemingly endless parade of bad headlines: There was the former CEO’s memo to employees outlining his rules for partying and sex; reports that Uber is still paying women employees less than men; that Kalanick was using the Uber HQ lactation room for his personal meditation space; and that a since-fired company executive had obtained and shared the medical files of a rape victim in an effort to disprove her allegations.
The company has already started making some changes, announcing just yesterday that the app will now allow all drivers to accept tips.
“Why now? Because it’s the right thing to do, it’s long overdue, and there’s no time like the present,” the company said in an email to drivers on Tuesday. “This is just the beginning. We know there’s a long road ahead, but we won’t stop until we get there.”