Uber CEO Travis Kalanick steps down

A slew of scandals drove shareholder pressure to a breaking point.

Sponsored Links

Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

The New York Times reports that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is stepping down, following heavy pressure from a large group of shareholders. Despite a reputation for scandals that appeared to be accelerating -- sexual assaults by drivers, "greyballing" regulators, disputes over driver pay and a corporate culture teeming with sexual harassment -- Kalanick had remained the company's leader, and announced a week ago that he would take a leave of absence.

As recently as February the 40-year-old executive was promising to "fundamentally change as a leader and grow up," but as Axios reported tonight, a group of investors including VCs from Benchmark, First Round Capital, Fidelity Investments, Lowercase Capital and Menlo Ventures teamed up, writing a "Moving Uber Forward" letter demanding a change in leadership. He still owns a significant portion of the company, and will reportedly remain a board member. In a statement given to the New York Times, Kalanick said: "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's second-in-command Emil Michael already departed the company following an internal investigation into its culture, while self-driving engineer Anthony Levandowski has been fired in the midst of a lawsuit accusing him of stealing trade secrets from his previous employer, Google/Waymo.

The list of scandals and unsettling behavior is so long we can't recount it here, but despite the clear need for change, it's still a surprise that Uber's CEO has been forced out. We'll see what happens next -- or what the company says publicly, it has not yet responded to our requests -- but we do have a few ideas about how to turn things around. Uber kicked off a "180 days of change" program to improve its driving experience just yesterday, so it's anyone's guess what the next 179 will include.

Turn on browser notifications to receive breaking news alerts from Engadget
You can disable notifications at any time in your settings menu.
Not now

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.
Popular on Engadget