In Crisis, Uber Holds Press Conference Call

uber press conference

On Tuesday (March 21), the ridesharing startup held a press conference with reporters to help address much of the negative press the company has experienced.

Uber’s public image has been taking major hits as of late, from a growing number of executives jumping ship to major questions about the company’s culture, due to accusations of sexism and discrimination.

The press call was hosted by media mogul and Uber board member Arianna Huffington, who was joined by Uber’s Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey and Rachel Holt, head of Uber’s business in the U.S. and Canada.

While the company’s CEO Travis Kalanick did not participate in the call, he was a hot topic in the conversation. Though Kalanick has been a driving force behind the company’s success, he has also drawn a great deal of criticism over the years.

When asked by reporters about Kalanick’s role at the company being in jeopardy, Huffington made it clear that the CEO is staying put. She said the idea of Kalanick resigning “has not been addressed because it hasn’t come up, and we don’t expect it to come up.”

“I’m a big proponent of allowing leaders to evolve,” she said. “He has made it clear that this [is] a journey that he takes very seriously and … is holding himself ultimately responsible.”

The company is continuing its search for a new chief operating officer, a task that Huffington is helping with, along with Uber board member and investor Bill Gurley, who was also not on the call.

“In short, Uber needs a leader who has significant operational experience and who understands service-related businesses at a local and global scale; who can thrive in a hyper-growth company and someone with the strength and smarts to work alongside a founder as a true partner,” Huffington added.

Though the conference call didn’t share any major announcements, Recode noted, the representatives did make it clear that changes need to be made.

Not only is the company going through some major restructuring as to how it’s run, Hornsey confirmed, but there will also be significant changes coming to its internal structure and overall culture.

“The focus of the company has been on the business, not the employees, and too little attention was being paid to the way things were operating internally,” Hornsey explained. “Now is the time to rectify this balance. This is my primary focus right now — on ensuring we have the right organizational design, the right culture and the right employee proposition.”

The company is also expected to soon publish its first diversity report, which she confirmed is part of Uber’s effort to increase its focus on diversity and inclusion.