Why Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Is Leaving The Company He Made

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Uber problems.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick recently announced that he planned to take an extended leave of absence from his role at the currently beleaguered taxi and ride-share company.

This decision of his coincided with former Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement about his presentation of the findings of an investigation into Uber's workplace culture. 


Uber has been under fire since February when an employee blew the whistle on the sexual harassment she had been experiencing while working for the company. This was, unfortunately, just the tip of the scandalous iceberg that mostly involved the men who made up what Kalanick called his "A-Team." 

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A top Uber executive, Eric Alexander, was fired for mishandling a rape case of a rider in India in 2014. Alexander even illegally acquired the victim's personal medical records to run his own investigation of the rape, and then showed these files to other executives in the company. Thankfully, Uber has reported that he is no longer with the company.

Emil Michael also left this company this week, after the suggestion of the company board's investigation into his role in these scandals. In 2014, he admitted to personally smearing reporters and invading their personal lives if they were critical of Uber in any way. Michael sent a company-wide email to his employees to explain his sudden departure, but it did not mention any of the allegations of his involvement in the company's rocky history.


Kalanick himself and his "A-Team" were also reported to Uber HR for visiting an escort bar in South Korea while on a business trip. 

Holder's investigation revealed that higher ups at Uber had, in fact, turned a blind eye to the continued sexual harassment of its female employees, among many other serious issues. This has already led to firings, but now, Kalanick himself is also taking an advised three-month step away from the company while it recovers from this crisis. 

Here is the entire note that Kalanick wrote to his employees at Uber regarding his leave of absence — and note that it is woefully lacking in addressing any of the potential sexual abuse:


For the last eight years, my life has always been about Uber. 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.

The ultimate responsibility for where we've gotten and how we've gotten here rests on my shoulders. There is, of course, much to be proud of, but there is much to improve. 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.

During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly.

It's hard to put a timeline on this — it may be shorter or longer than we might expect. Tragically losing a loved one has been difficult for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes. The incredible outpouring of heartfelt notes and condolences from all of you have kept me strong but almost universally they have ended with 'How can I help?' My answer is simple. Do your life's work in service to our mission. That gives me time with family. Put people first, that is my mom's legacy. And make Uber 2.0 real so that the world can see the inspired work all of you do, and the inspiring people that make Uber great.

See you soon,


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It is admirable that measures are being taken, especially given the current administration (I dare not speak the devil's name for fear he should appear) to right such serious wrongs. For too long, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace have been swept under the rug.

However, that's the extent of my praise. This isn't an article about how Uber ought to be applauded for punishing people for doing bad things like sexual harassment, it's an article about bad people being caught doing something bad and how, finally, these straight white rich men are being held accountable. 

Kalanick's future role at Uber is murky at best, but hopefully the company's employees will not suffer for their boss's crimes.