Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of controversial startup Uber, has stepped down as the company’s chief following pressure from the company’s board and a direct request from its investors, The New York Times has reported.
According to the report, Kalanick’s exit followed “hours of drama” involving Uber’s investors, which had earlier demanded he remove himself from the position immediately. The request to the co-founder of the multibillion-dollar ride-sharing startup allegedly came via a letter titled “Moving Uber Forward”.
“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 is quoted as saying in a statement given to the Times.
Kalanick decided to take a break from the company last week, citing a family tragedy for his time away from the startup giant.
His leave was also touted as an act of valour, aimed at giving Uber time to rebuild its reputation after a long chain of scandals.
As reported by Recode, the email sent by Kalanick said that “recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work,” and that he needs “to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team”.
“For Uber 2.0 to succeed, there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team,” the CEO wrote.
“But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.”
Kalanick’s decision last week followed another meeting between Uber directors which recommended a radical set of changes at Uber, including shaking up the corporate culture to eradicate sexism, removing party-first practices, and reducing Kalanick’s responsibilities as CEO.
The meeting also reportedly included discussions over allegations of sexual harassment and saw the resignation of board member David Bonderman, who made a sexist remark at a previous meeting that involved fellow board member Arianna Huffington and was called to prevent such behavior taking place in the future.
Bonderman later called his comments “careless, inappropriate, and inexcusable”, while The New York Times has flagged Huffington as gaining influence within the company.
Amit Singhal, Uber’s former senior vice president of engineering, also stepped down in February after leaving Google only a month prior to take up his new gig.
Singhal’s departure followed a blog post written by a former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, that alleged she and other female employees at the company were sexually harassed. She also detailed a company-wide culture of sexism and unprofessional business practices.