By on June 21, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Image: TechCrunch/Flickr

Uber’s founder is stepping away from the company — not for the summer, as originally planned, but for good. CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned after a relentless string of controversies caused the company to lose face for all of 2017 thus far.

On Tuesday, five of Uber’s largest investors demanded that the chief executive resign. This was followed by Kalanick’s official confirmation and a posting from the company’s head of U.S. operations outlining a 180 day strategy to turn things around. While the plan made no mention of Travis’ departure, the resignation certainly seems to jibe with its objectives.

Other more official aspects of Uber’s cleverly named “180” include trials for driver tipping in several major cities and a surcharge for teenagers because everyone hates them. The ride-hailing firm is also adding Driver Injury Protection Insurance and a way to bill passengers for making them wait. None of these changes appear to be all-inclusive, however. Uber has also made it fairly vague as to when and where some of these changes will occur. 

Less uncertain is Kalanick’s departure. In a letter obtained by The New York Times, investors told the CEO to leave immediately while citing a dire need to change the company’s leadership.

“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 announcement on Tuesday evening.

The board later released its own statement. “This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber,” it explained. “By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history.”

Last week, Kalanick said he would take an indefinite leave of absence from Uber, to develop “Travis 2.0” and to grieve for his mother, who died last month in a boating accident. That plan also mentioned he might someday return in a less public role at the company — which could have been beneficial considering its massive shortage of executives. However, Kalanick has served as the face of controversy and been charged with allowing the development of a toxic corporate culture. There have been rampant allegations of sexual misconduct at Uber, legal issues surrounding IP theft, unseamly programs like Project Greyball, conflict with government regulators, and a general encouragement of a dog-eat-dog mentality among staff.

Kalanick’s resignation leaves questions of who is going to take the helm at Uber, especially since the company is undergoing massive changes to turn its bad press into something positive. “There really is no top brass at Uber,” James Cakmak, an analyst with Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co, wrote in an investor note last week.

Despite all the negative attention, Uber is still valued at nearly $69 billion. Revenue increased to $3.4 billion in the first quarter, while losses narrowed slightly — hinting that it might someday be profitable. Kalanick himself remains a billionaire due to his large stake in the company, with a net worth of roughly $6.7 billion. He also still retains majority control of Uber’s voting shares.

[Image: TechCrunch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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24 Comments on “Changes at Uber Include CEO’s Resignation, Driver Tips, and Higher Fares for Obnoxious Teens...”


  • avatar
    hamish42

    The company is viable and brilliantly conceived. The poisonous atmosphere in which it has operated is simply not acceptable. It has the very worst characteristics of a nasty little boys’ club. Hopefully the new leadership can continue to lead the company on. There are still horizons to conquer and improvements to be made on a very valuable service attuned to 2017.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      It’s obviously acceptable enough, to all those who use their services, and all those who choose to work there….. Or they would take a Taxi and work somewhere else.

      Running around with opinions about how other people should behave and live their life; and, even worse, dragging governments and ambulance chasers and all manners of other trash into it, will forever remain the sole domain of expendable trash. And what is probably THE number one reason why this country is going down the drain on an express train.

      The fact that anyone even gives a toot about who happens to have one specific job (CEO, driver whatever) at Uber, versus any other job at any other company, is in and of itself pettiness beyond all reason. If you like their service, use it. Otherwise don’t. Then go pretend you have something more useful to spend your pathetic little life concerned about, than exactly who does and says what somewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        And yet through your pathetic little rant, you failed to address the sexual harassment allegations and you failed to even mention Kalanick’s behavior on video on how he treated one of his “contractors”. But yea let’s ignore his and others behavior and let it continue…what is this the 1950’s again where women should be paid less and harassed more??

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Running around making “allegations,” to the cheers of ambulance chasers on the make everywhere, must surely be the optimal efficiency way out there, to connect drivers and fares……

          And if I make a video, and you don’t like how I behave in it; feel free to turn it off, and watch something more to your liking.

          And yes, “We” should mind our own business. Not run around with harebrained opinions of how we want others to “behave.” It’s exactly none of my business what he and his contractors talk about on video. Any more than it is my business what you and your plumbing contractor may pillowtalk about. If either of you don’t like how the conversation is going, pack up and leave, put in earbuds, whatever. It’s between him and you. Not me. Ditto for me and some dude who works for Uber. As well as you and some dude who works for Uber. Hence, “We” and some dude who works for Uber.

          And what other people pay other people, is also exactly zero of my business, as long as the check doesn’t come out of my taxes, levies, fees or other forms of state sanctioned robbery. Then I just might have some input. But otherwise, If Bill A. Bong decides to hand you a check for a million, and your sister one for a buck less; the size, or even existence or not, of neither check is any of my business. Hence neither is any possible difference that may exist between the two.

          Uber exists to connect drivers and fares as efficiently as possible. That’s it! If the guys over there feel the best way to achieve that, is to have a corporate culture of playing Russian roulette with naked women; they’re the ones who’ll suffer if that particular eccentricity doesn’t work out too well. Leaving the door open for competitors who may leave the Russian out, or something.

          My interaction with Uber begins and ends with having them drive me from A to B. If they do that better than anyone else, they’re OK. Whatever some dude who happens to work there, may be up to on youtube videos, is exactly not any of my business at all. Nor any of yours. Nor anybody elses.

      • 0 avatar
        Bazza

        Hamish’s comment was reasonable and balanced…service is good, but the company culture needs some work…and then you step in with this nonsense. Kalanick’s culture is directly endangering the company’s viability and frankly I’d like to see them to stay in business. Try thinking like a competition-loving capitalist for a change…it’s refreshing.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          In the short term you are most certainly right. When in a broken world, live like the broken people, and so forth. I’ve been working in “the business” for almost forever. And would most certainly advice Uber to do much as you say. Certainly not as I say. They seem to already have tried a less extreme version of that one; and it obviously failed miserably in the current environment.

          But I also see firsthand how costly, difficult and limiting it is becoming to start and run a company in a world where every Tom, Dick and clueless Jane sees the big honeypots and fame arising from the pumped up share prices and attendant fame and fortunes of founders and early staff; and spend every waking moment of every day trying to insert their leeching selves into what is ultimately very fragile value chains.

          None of these guys needed to upend the Taxi business. Every one of them could make very comfortable livings pursuing a million other, less disruptive, opportunities. Anything that makes jumping off the train, and seeking to take it to the established competition, harder and less attractive, means you get less of it. And not just linearly, as the first guys to fall off, are the guys with the least aptitude/tolerance for playing the PC game. Which happens to correlate extremely highly, with having greatest aptitude for cutting edge software development, as well as most any truly leading edge, complex field.

          Uber as of now, can afford to play the dumb-game with the ambulance chasers, zero-value-add fame courting “activists” and whatnot; but the precedence these kind of witch hunts set for smaller, less established companies, is just one more in an increasing number of nails in the coffin, of what was the phenomenon of Silicon Valley.

          The culture used to be almost exclusively about solving effing problems. Which is why it was so darned efficient at solving them. Once you start having to worry about how PC you appear while pretending to solve problems; and have to pay for, and waste time dealing with, PCness consultants, lawyers, insurance against claims from opportunistic sluts, etc., you may well be better off just staying home in Bangalore, or go to Singapore. Or just stay at your corporate job, while playing videogames, and at best half heartedly contribute to some open source project (where there is no money attracting the leeches) on the side.

          And it’s not something you’ll see immediately by looking at it from the outside. There will still be plenty of “startups”, as long as there is plenty of money sloshing around chasing them. Supply will rise to meet demand and all. But the founders will be, and are becoming, less and less of the “I’m just going to make this crazy idea of mine work, come what may” kind, and more of the “take a few years off ‘doing a startup with my macbook,’ and if I fail I’ll go work for daddy”s law firm\'” kind. The latter undoubtedly better at saying the right thing on video to some attention starved lawyered up “feminist”, than the former. But also, infinitely less likely to replace the entire world’s Taxi industry with something better, which at least in part requires doggedly bulldozing as many of the artificial barriers the incumbents put up to keep you out, as possible.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I mean, I hate teenagers too, but can you really charge them a surcharge? That’s a bold strategy, cotton, let’s see if it pays off.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Unfortunately you can’t refuse them service outright. but how is it any different than a place offering a “senior discount?”

      • 0 avatar
        hamish42

        my Mom refuses to use the “senior discount”. She figures her age is nobody’s business, especially to save 2 bucks going in to see Wonder Woman. From what she tells me she’s not alone.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Are there higher than unusual charge disputes from teenagers? I’m thinking the parets can come back get the charge overturned?

      Or perhaps a higher risk of ambulance chasers shaking you down for more, if anything ever goes wrong while you are attempting to serve “children”?

      Or perhaps teens vandalize the cars at a higher rate? Or aren’t there when the car shows up?

      Uber’s got to have some data indicating serving teens cost more than older cohorts, and that cannot be compensated for by segmenting fares along more specific metrics than just age.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @S2kChris: A Dodgeball reference!! You win my gratitude for that.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    So the CEO of this profitless company is fired because he doesn’t put women on a pedestal, and not because they have never earned a penny? Users love Uber, but drivers make about $2 per hour if they properly account for their car expenses.
    The lack of profits also means they need to start charging higher prices so that drivers and shareholders can actually earn a decent return on their time/investment, which means fares will need to go up for everyone – not just teenagers. Sounds like Uber is moving closer to becoming more a traditional taxi service. Will users still love Uber then?

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      Read between the lines. Uber is being leaned on heavily by the big boys who want to see it turn a profit. Kalanick handed them ready-made reasons to kick him out that sound high-minded, but make no mistake it’s ultimately about the bottom line, which is suffering in part due to his inability to play the game.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Completely sweeping things under the rug when a manager propositions a new employee for sex on her first day of work (and this not being the first time he’s done this), and HR telling her it’s her fault if she gets a bad evaluation for having the temerity to complain about it is hardly mere “[not] putting women on a pedestal.”

      The lack of profits hasn’t bothered them so far, and didn’t bother Amazon for like 10 years…

  • avatar
    HahnZahn

    When the long-overdue oversight and regulation on this toxic company finally kicks in, it’ll never turn a profit. They’ll just have separated a lot of foolish VCs from their money only to discover that cab companies weren’t quite so ripe for disruptification after all. It actually takes a hell of a lot of money to transport people from place to place while maintaining a fleet of vehicles. His one innovation was to flout laws long enough to make Uber a household name. And to popularize the elevator pitch of, “We’re the Uber of ____.”

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Fsck off with your comments about “obnoxious teenagers” and “everyone hates teenagers”.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    Bigger news is Uber just allowed tipping and since the drivers rate the riders, if you do not tip enough you will get a bad rating which will be seen by other drivers and they will stop picking you up, this will eventually raise the price of using Uber and probably very bad for Uber in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Love it.

      I honestly can’t wait for Uber to implode. Frat boys like that need to suffer the consequences of their actions.

      I think the taxi business needs to take this idea and market themselves to death with it–“your money is good with us, we don’t rate you like meat in a butcher case”.

      In all honesty, why would any business think that it has to rate its customers like that? Imagine McDonald’s putting in facial recognition, and having its cashiers hit a rating button on every transaction. Now McD’s starts to develop data on…whether the cashiers like you or not (or more than likely, whether or not they know how the buttons on the register work). To what end?

      It’s just another reason for me not to use Uber (as if I need another reason).

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Presumably the whole point is to make Uber prices depend on tipping (and thus push more cost of Uber).

        The whole thing crashing down depends on just how much money they really have. The “official valuation” is insane, but I suspect that existed mainly to not have to give a significant share of the company in return for investment. If they really have those billions they can lose money in volume indefinitely (and presumably become a hedge fund named after a failed taxi company).

        My guess is that it will come crashing down (a company run by psychopaths just doesn’t plan for the future). I also have to wonder how many of those investors also pump money into groups like ISIS: not planning for the future might even be more dangerous than at first glance.

  • avatar

    As the late Phyllis Schlafly correctly noted: “a virtuous woman can not be sexually harassed”. This is a matter of fact, not opinion.

    Uber is doomed unless they successfully implement the traditional taxi business model of using government to grant them a monopoly.I hope they fail.


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