Uber’s head of self-driving car programme Sherif Marakby quits
Photo Credit: Reuters

Cab-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc’s vice president of global vehicle programmes Sherif Marakby has left the company, according to media reports.

He played a crucial role in developing the firm’s self-driving car programme.

"Self-driving is one of the most interesting challenges I’ve worked on in my career, and I’m grateful to have contributed to what will soon be a safer future for everyone," Marakby told Reuters.

Last month, the company appointed Francois Chadwick, its global head of tax and accounting, as additional director of India operations. Also, Karen Walker, global controller at Uber handling the finance function, resigned as director from Uber India Systems Pvt. Ltd, citing unavoidable circumstances. Walker joined the firm as global controller in December 2013, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Sanjay Gupta, chief marketing officer at online furniture seller Urban Ladder, is likely to join Uber as marketing head for India, people close to the development previously told VCCircle.

The company has been rapidly increasing its headcount in India, shifting its focus on the South Asian nation, after exiting China. The number of employees in the country has grown almost eight times over the past year, from 80 to more than 600 now, Pradeep Desu, head of recruitment at Uber India, told VCCircle in September last year.

Of late, the firm has been drawing flak for a couple of reasons. A former employee recently claimed she was sexually harassed while working with the firm. In a separate incident, a video showing chief executive Travis Kalanick harshly berating an Uber driver became viral.

Last week, the company came under fire from Indians on social media after its top officials allegedly made uncomplimentary statements. Christian Freese, general manager at Uber’s Bangalore office, irked the Twitterati when he told The New York Times that “folks (Indians) were rather locked up at home” before the firm launched its operations and that people were now going out, especially on the weekend.

In recent times, Uber’s local operations have been marked by driver strikes protesting against dwindling incentives and falling incomes. Last week, the company obtained a restraining order from the Bombay High Court, preventing dissenting taxi unions from disrupting its operations in Mumbai.

Today, a strike was called by driver-partners of Uber and its home-grown rival Ola, as well as kaali-peeli taxi operators, causing inconvenience to commuters in Delhi-NCR. The protesters are demanding better perks, unrestricted hours to meet targets, accident insurance and an increase in the minimum charge which is currently Rs 6 per kilometre.

According to Reuters’ report, the company is looking for a chief operating officer to assist Kalanick and improve its tarnished image.

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