Kalanick could do with a vacation.
As per a source familiar with the matter at hand, on Sunday Uber Technologies’ board discussed the temporary stepping away of Travis Kalanick, its Chief Executive, as the embattled ride-hailing company considers significant changes to its management practices.
There is no clarity yet as to whether Uber’s board has decided to change Kalanick’s role.
The board is expected to adopt a number of internal policy and management changes recommended by outside attorneys who were hired to investigate sexual harassment cases against the company as well as its broader culture.
The lawyers have not made any recommendation regarding Kalanick.
The meeting, which Uber strategically decided to keep under low profile and outside of public gaze, could be pivotal for the company’s future, since it is facing strong headwinds from its tough approach to local regulations and the manner in which it handles drivers and employees.
As per two sources familiar with the matter at hand, Uber’s 7 voting members of its board, including Kalanick, are expected to vote on recommendations made by the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, which conducted a review of the company’s policies and culture.
The issue, ignited by Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, ignited when Fowler published a blog post detailing what she described as sexual harassment and the lack of an appropriate response from senior managers.
In March, Arianna Huffington, a board member, had stated Kalanick needs to change his leadership style from that of a “scrappy entrepreneur” to be more like a “leader of a major global company.”
Since then, Uber’s board has been looking for a chief operating officer who will help Kalanick run the nearly $70 billion company.
Some of the recommendations could force greater controls on human resources and spending on the company, areas which are currently controlled by Kalanick.
As per a source familiar with the matter, given that Uber has more than 12,000 employees, the level of autonomy Kalanick enjoys is surprising.
Uber has chosen to classify its 1.5 million worldwide drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.
The recommendations could determine Kalanick’s fate in the company, who incidentally with close allies has voting control of the company.
Kalanick might be persuaded to take some time off from the company and on his return his role could see narrower responsibilities subject to strong oversight.
One of the issues that has been highlighted, as per two sources familiar with the matter, is Uber’s handling of a crisis in India in which one of its drivers was arrested for raping a customer.
Although the driver was convicted in 2015, Kalanick and other executives were convinced that the crime was a set up by a local competitor, said former employees said.