Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced that he will be going on an indefinite leave of absence as his company faces the challenge of rebuilding its image after a wave of scandals and charges of sexism.
According to Reuters, Kalanick told his staff in an email that he would be taking time to grieve for his mother and to work his leadership skills. Kalanick’s mother lost her life in a boating accident several weeks ago which also severely injured Kalanick’s father. There is no word on when Kalanick will be back, but he will be able to return at any time. A management committee will run Uber during Kalanick’s absence.
While Kalanick is undoubtedly facing personal trauma, his departure timing with further scandals surrounding his battered company is certainly circumspect. On Tuesday, the company held an all-hands meeting discussing how to create an “Uber 2.0” which would be free of the charges of sexism and discrimination and would pay more attention to human resources.
But in that very meeting, Uber board member David Bonderman quipped on the idea of adding a second woman to its board that “it’s much more likely to be more talking.” The board reacted poorly to the joke and when it was leaked to the public, Bonderman apologized and then announced his resignation from the board.
Bonderman’s resignation and Kalanick’s leave of absence are just the latest in a series of departures by Uber. Kalanick confidant and Uber senior vice president Emil Michael left on Monday, following the departure of Uber’s finance chief and senior VP of website design earlier in the year. Uber’s decision to be run by a committee after Kalanick’s departure is a sign of how the company’s command structure is currently in a state of flux.
While the resignations and scandals have impacted Uber’s reputation, the company’s revenue still continues to grow and investors have not totally shelved the idea that it could go public later this year. However, the shuffling at the top of the deck indicates that Uber is making a sincere effort to reposition itself as a kinder company which takes care of its workers and does not discriminate. Whether it can succeed remains to be seen.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]