After months of scandals and PR disasters, rideshare giant Uber might finally have a light at the end of the tunnel. As of the 13th June 2017, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced that he will be taking an extended period of absence.
This period leave was the result of the recent boating accident which Kalanick’s mother was killed and his father is still in hospital in a critical condition. However, despite his leaving statement claiming that these recent events have allowed him to discover that people are more important than work, it’s obvious that the leave is to do with a lot more than that.
The leaving statement was revealed just as the rideshare market leader revealed to its employees the set of recommendations. These recommendations come after Covington & Burling, an investigation law company who investigated the company’s management practises and overall ‘toxic’ culture. This investigation was initiated after online reports went viral from one engineer blog detailing completely horrific accounts of sexual harassment and sexism while working at Uber.
This is not the first negative PR situation Uber has had to deal with. From the first ‘Boob-er’ incident back in 2014 where Kalanick controversially exclaimed a sexist joke to an Esquire reporter to the incident of June 2017 where a leading Uber executive reportedly obtained the medical records of a woman, who had been raped by an Uber driver, with the intentions of creating doubt towards the victim’s account of the event. This led to the sacking of the executive and led to Uber being sued.
Under Kalanick’s leadership, Uber’s drivers have been up in arms over various circumstances. Even as recent as May, Uber had agreed to pay out over $20,000,000 after the company admitted to underpaying their New York City drivers over the last two years.
Kalanick’s history goes back to Uber’s origins when he developed and expanded the business into the $70 billion rideshare company it is today that operates with over 12,000 employees. With Kalanick in leave for an undefined amount of time, Uber is preparing for a huge period of change. The company has yet to choose a replacement COO but with so much viral news on the toxic culture of the company, whoever takes up the post as one of the boards leading members has a lot of work to do.
There are numerous reports coming in about the number of employees who are planning to leave the company due to the underpayments and negative company image. If Uber was to lose the majority of its leaders, the company could rapidly begin to head downhill. Another Uber director, Arianna Huffington (also the founder of the Huffington Post) is now in the spotlight. Ms Huffington’s influence over the company has rapidly expanded over the last couple of months and now, with Kalanick gone, that influence is only set to increase. There are internal reports for employees and board members that Ms Huffington’s point of view and ideas for moving the company forward are revolutionary and exactly what the company needs right now.
Unfortunately, change will never happen overnight. There are many issues to address and a number of problems to iron out. Drivers will only be certain of their future once a new COO has been announced and things start to move forward. Throughout the Uber industry, from drivers to board members, fingers are crossed that this is the moment of revelation and this time will go down in the Uber history books as the time where the company transformed itself into something great and business that every employee can be proud of.
We’ll all know more information about the events as they unfold over the next couple of weeks. Big things are coming and we’re all excited to see what direction Uber will go in. Check back here for regular updates for more information and details.