These days it’s difficult to fill a taxi website without talking about Uber. Here is some background on all that happened ‘round Travis (forced) departure. Provided by an insider, the Rideshareguy (RSG).
With Travis’ departure, there are a lot of unanswered questions for drivers and for Uber employees. One of the most interesting questions will be, how ‘gone’ is Travis really? While RSG can only observe from afar, senior RSG contributor John Ince has been following TK and Uber for years now, and today he has some pretty insightful commentary on the future of Uber and what Travis is up to next.
Sum and Substance: Travis Kalanick stepped down last Tuesday as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing service that he helped found in 2009 and that he built into a transportation colossus, after a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company
Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential. Earlier that Tuesday, five of Uber’s major investors demanded that the chief executive resign immediately. The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board. The investors made their demand for Mr. Kalanick to step down in a letter delivered to the chief executive while he was in Chicago, said the people with knowledge of the situation.
In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward” and obtained by The New York Times, the investors wrote to Mr. Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership. Mr. Kalanick, 40, consulted with at least one Uber board member and after long discussions with some of the investors, he agreed to step down. He will 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,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.
The company, with its co-founder Travis Kalanick, is known for its brash, aggressive approach. That approach has taken a toll. Uber has been trying to move past its difficult history, which has grown inextricably tied to Mr. Kalanick. In recent months, Uber has fired more than 20 employees after an investigation into the company’s culture, embarked on major changes to professionalize its workplace, and is searching for new executives including a chief operating officer.
The five shareholders who demanded Mr. Kalanick’s resignation include some of the technology industry’s most prestigious venture capital firms, which invested in Uber at an early stage of the company’s life, as well as a mutual fund firm. Apart from Benchmark, they are First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, which together own more than a quarter of Uber’s stock. 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.
Mr. Kalanick’s resignation opens questions of who may take over Uber, especially since the company has been so molded in his image. And Mr. Kalanick will probably remain a presence there since he still retains control of a majority of Uber’s voting shares.
Taking a start-up chief executive to task so publicly is relatively unusual in Silicon Valley, where investors often praise entrepreneurs and their aggressiveness, especially if their companies are growing fast. It is only when those start-ups are in a precarious position or are declining that shareholders move to protect their investment. In the case of Uber — one of the most highly valued private companies in the world — investors could lose billions of dollars if the company were to be marked down in valuation.
In the letter, in addition to Mr. Kalanick’s immediate resignation, the five shareholders asked for improved oversight of the company’s board by filling two of three empty board seats with “truly independent directors.” They also demanded that Mr. Kalanick support a board-led search committee for a new chief executive, and that Uber immediately hire an experienced chief financial officer.
Read more about the intrigue behind Travis’ departure: http://therideshareguy.com/is-uber-better-off-without-travis-kalanick/
- The ins and outs of Uber with and without Kalanick make for fascinating reads.