Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO takes undefined leave of absence midst sweeping financial & management reforms

The scandal-ridden company is on the verge of turning a new leaf. It would be interesting to see how this change of management will impact its case with Waymo.

On Tuesday, Travis Kalanick, Uber Technologies Inc’s CEO told employees he would take some time off from the company.

The development is just one of a series of measures Uber is taking to mitigate a pile of controversies that have been dogging it for a while now.

Despite being temporary, Kalanick’s departure is a thunderclap for Silicon Valley’s startups, where founders have typically enjoyed great autonomy and have often been seen as being synonymous with their companies.

Kalanick, 40, did not say how long he would be away.

“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,” wrote Kalanick in his email. “During this interim period, the leadership team will be running the company.”

As per a source familiar with the matter at hand, Kalanick can return whenever he wishes.

Uber has shared with its staff the 47 management and policy recommendations that were unanimously accepted and adopted by its board.

As per a source who was present at the meeting, Kalanick did not attend it.

The recommendations provided by Covington and Burling, include the addition of an independent director as well as an independent chairman to the board; a larger and more independent audit committee to oversee matters of spending and management as well as compulsory training for managers.

“I would now suggest to any startup, here are the Covington rules, and when you get passed 100 people, put these in place,” said Steve Blank, a startup founder and mentor and adjunct professor at Stanford University.

Romance between bosses and their subordinates, clearer guidelines on the usage of alcohol and drugs was part of the recommendations that were accepted.

“I think it paints a picture of a company pretty out of control with no oversight from the board or basic controls,” said Elizabeth Ames, senior vice president Anita Borg Institute.

Liane Hornsey, Uber’s human resources chief thanked Susan Fowler for writing about the harassment she faced as that was the catalyst for the recent changes. Hornsey was applauded by employees for her leadership.

Uber is now expected to search more vigorously for a chief operating officer, the No.2 position in the company. It is also looking for a chief financial officer.

The 14 people, including Ryan Graves, Uber’s head of operations and one-time CEO, who used to directly report to Kalanick will now most likely take addition responsibilities.

“Inevitably, this will help drive the pendulum back toward better governance inside an organization,” said Robert Siegel, a lecturer at Stanford University and venture capitalist at XSeed Capital. “Sometimes we conflate great business leaders with strong personalities with great governance.”


Categories: Creativity, Entrepreneurship, HR & Organization, Strategy

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