Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is doing more than taking a leave of absence from the high tech ride-hailing firm — he is stepping down as head of the company he helped found.
Shareholder pressure led to Kalanick’s decision, sources told The New York Times. Five of Uber’s most prominent investors, including venture capital firm Benchmark, on Tuesday demanded Kalanick’s immediate resignation as head of the company. The demand came in the form of a letter, which was obtained by The Times.
The investors, in the letter, requested Kalanick tender his resignation immediately, saying the company needed a change in leadership. According to the Times’ report, Kalanick first consulted with at least one Uber board member and engaged in lengthy discussions with investors, before complying with the request. He will, however, remain on Uber’s board of directors.
“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,” Kalanick said in a statement.
Kalanick, originally, was supposed to take a leave of absence although the board did discuss “the possibility that Kalanick might return in a role with less authority,” perhaps as a CEO with fewer responsibilities and more oversight or in a position other than the company’s chief executive, according to a Reuters report.
Kalanick’s leadership of Uber has been under question this year. The company has had a troubled year, facing sexism allegations and issues with disgruntled drivers, not to mention being accused of stealing trade secrets from Alpahbet’s self-driving vehicle division, Waymo and being slapped with a $20 million fine by the FTC.
If that were not enough, Uber’s popularity took a hit over Kalanick’s involvement in President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council. Kalanick’s failure to immediately condemn an order signed by Trump back in January that suspended immigration to the United Sates from Muslim countries led to public outrage. A #DeleteUber campaign was started via social media and, although Kalanick did resign from the advisory council, it was not before losing some 200,000 customers.