Uber Technologies, Inc co-founder Travis Kalanick has stepped down as chief executive of the cab-hailing firm in the face of mounting pressure from investors, a media report said on Wednesday.
Five of Uber’s top investors, including venture capital firm Benchmark, demanded Kalanick’s resignation in a letter titled ‘Moving Uber Forward’ while the chief executive was in Chicago, The New York Times reported citing two people aware of the development.
The investors said in the letter that the company’s leadership needed a revamp, and demanded that two of three vacant board seats be filled by independent directors, the report further said. After hours of deliberation with a board member and several investors, Kalanick decided to step down.
“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,” NYT quoted Kalanick as saying.
He will, however, continue to be on Uber’s board of directors, the report added.
It is not yet clear who will replace Kalanick at the helm.
Besides Benchmark, Uber’s other top investors include First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Fidelity Investments. However, they own a kind of stock that gives them disproportionate voting rights, to the tune of 40%, the report explained.
Just last week, Kalanick announced he would be taking time off to help the company resolve the series of controversies it had got itself embroiled into. Kalanick’s move came after US Attorney General Eric Holder ran an investigation into the company’s culture and practices, after a former female employee publicly accused it of promoting sexual harassment by often looking the other way.
A fortnight ago, Uber laid off 20 employees after a law firm investigated 215 cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Around the same time, Emil Michael and Eric Alexander, two of Uber’s top employees reportedly close to Kalanick, also resigned. While Michael courted controversy in 2014 over remarks about prying into the private lives of journalists, Alexander was let off after a media report said he had mishandled the rape case of an Uber passenger in Delhi.
Uber has also been in a legal tangle with Waymo, Google’s self-driving car unit, over intellectual property theft. Waymo has accused Uber of stealing trade secrets and infringing on patents of its self-driving programme.
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