Travis Kalanick takes leave of absence from Uber CEO position

Step down occurs as investigation into harassment presents recommendations

Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick announced he would be taking a leave of absence, as the company begins a wide reorganization in the wake of a series of scandals that have damaged its administration’s reputation. At a Tuesday meeting, Uber released 13 pages of recommendations as a result of a sexual harassment probe conducted by former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder. These recommendations included limiting Kalanick’s responsibilities and allocating some to a chief operating officer. It was also recommended that Uber create an oversight committee to avoid allowing management to operate without a checks and balances system.

Those recommendations come in the wake of a wheeling and dealing attitude fomented by Kalanick since the company was founded in 2009. Under Kalanick’s leadership, Uber would often try to work its way around regulations to keep growing no matter what, sometimes even meaning the ignoring of corporate misconduct. This lack of oversight within the company led to what some former employees called a toxic environment. Uber already fired 20 employees in the last few months for sexual harassment allegations, including some key executives. As a result, it seemed to be time for a reorganization.

As for Kalanick leaving, it is known that his aggressive management style trickled down to the executives, and it is expected that the managers who directly reported to him will run the company in the meantime while an interim CEO is assigned.

Even after the probe and the firings, there are still inklings of a sexist attitude within the company that need to be ironed out. For example, after Uber board member Arianna Huffington talked about the need for more female directors in the company, fellow board member David Bonderman said that adding more women to the board would only result in “more talking”. Bonderman later had to apologize to Huffington for the coded remark.

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