Uber CEO Announces Leave Of Absence

Uber Technologies, Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick has announced that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the company.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the move comes amid intense scrutiny over Uber’s workplace culture. Kalanick is also grieving the death of his mother, who was killed last month in a boating accident that also left his father seriously injured.

Travis Kalanick announced his leave in an email to all Uber staff, explaining that he would step aside to allow for direct reports to run the ridesharing company and that he will step in only for major strategic decisions. The leave is necessary, the Uber CEO said, “to become the leader that this company needs.”

The decision comes as a report by the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was slated to be outlined Tuesday. The report was requested by Kalanick after a blog post by former Uber software engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti described an aggressive, male-dominated workplace with managers who she said ignored her complaints of sexual harassment and sexism.

Another law firm, Perkins Coie LLP, which the carsharing company hired in part to investigate Ms. Fowler Rigetti’s claims, also brought in workers for interviews. Uber said last week that it received 215 complaints and fired 20 workers out of that probe. Holder’s investigation is broader and is designed to recommend specific changes, such as new human resources processes, chains of command and sensitivity training programs. Additional employees are also expected to be let go as a result.

On Sunday, Holder’s firm presented its report to company directors, which unanimously approved all of the recommendations. It also led to the resignation of Uber’s Chief Business Officer, Emil Michael.

The outcome carries significant stakes for Uber, which last year was valued by investors at $68 billion, and can threaten the company’s ability to attract talent. It is already in the midst of hiring both a chief operating officer and a finance chief and will need to fill other positions after losing its heads of other areas, including marketing and communications.


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