Travis Kalanick has just delivered a second shocker. After going on a leave of absence last week, the maverick CEO of Uber has now stepped down. According to an article in the New York Times, Travis came under pressure to exit after hours of drama involving the San Francisco-based ride-sharing app’s investors.
Five major investors of the world’s highest valued company demanded that Travis resign immediately, according to the report. These included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders – venture capital firm Benchmark, whose partner Bill Gurley is on Uber's board.
Investors sent a letter to Travis, while he was in Chicago, demanding his resignation. First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures, Lowercase Capital and Fidelity Investments, which along with Benchmark that hold more than a quarter of Uber’s stock, led the call for Travis to step down. Most of these have been invested in Uber since its early days.
They also have a strong say on the board, the New York Times points out -
“Because some of the investors hold a type of stock that endows them with an outsize number of votes, they have about 40 percent of Uber’s voting power.”
A letter titled – Moving Uber Forward – obtained by The New York Times stated that the investors asked Travis to leave immediately as the company desperately needed a change in leadership. In a statement, Travis said:
“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 by another fight.”
The year has been harrowing for Travis, capped by the recent death of his mother in a boating incident. It began with the #DeleteUber Campaign in January, after Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer blew the lid off the company's culture, which she alleged was sexist and toxic.
Uber has also been dealing with an intellectual property lawsuit from Waymo, Google's self-driving car company. Uber is also facing a federal inquiry into a tool that is allegedly called ‘Hell’ it has been using against its rivals. Last week, Emil Michael, one of Uber's top executives and Travis' confidante, quit the company.
Meanwhile, Uber fired more than 20 employees after a report submitted by law firm Perkins Coie whom the company had hired to look into cases of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination - a direct fallout of the Susan Fowler blog.
But Travis’ resignation has raised more questions than answers. What is in store for Uber? Who will hold the reigns of the company that has been strongly moulded into Travis’ image? Will Uber lose its sheen and edge over the other ride-sharing apps across the country? And with no clear successor in line, who is going to fight and get the throne? And what happens to its $68 billion valuation?