Amid controversies, Travis Kalanick takes an indefinite 'leave of absence'

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After facing a spate of controversies and turmoils in professional and personal life, Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick has decided to take leave of absence as chief executive officer of world's most valuable startup.


Kalanick, who recently lost his mother in a boat accident, announced the indefinite leave of absence in a memo to Uber employees.

“For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber,” Kalanick wrote. “Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.”

He further added, "The ultimate responsibility, for where we've gotten and how we've gotten here rests on my shoulders. For Uber 2.0 to succeed, there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But 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."


CIOL Amid controversies, Travis Kalanick takes an indefinite 'leave of absence'

Kalanick's move comes after an independent investigation conducted by the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burlington released 13 pages of recommendations. The report includes training human resource personnel on “the effective handling of complaints”, training senior management and executives in leadership, and the introduction of a policy banning romantic relationships between employees and their managers.

The internal investigation started with one blog written by Susan Fowler who revealed her experience of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the company. The blog, apparently, went viral and Kalanick then apologized and pledged to make Uber a better place to work.


However, soon the CEO himself was caught in a video arguing with an Uber driver over fares. If this wasn't enough, Google's self-driving platform Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber for stealing 14,000 confidential documents, containing details about the LiDAR technology.

The internal investigation not only revealed an unhealthy workplace culture of the company but also kickstarted a long series of high-level executive departures, which included the President of the company, as well as the heads of autonomous vehicles, growth, mapping, policy and software engineering, who all left this year.

Last week, the company fired more than 20 employees after another investigation into sexual harassment allegations, this one conducted by the law firm Perkins Coie. The most recent to leave is Kalanick's right-hand man and Uber's senior vice president for business, Emil Michael.

However, it is worth noticing that even amid the controversies, the company is doing well on the business front. Uber's revenue has increased to $3.4 billion in the first quarter, with a narrowed loss of $708 million.