Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, Leaving (For A While)

*While many of the Uber staff may have been shocked by a recent memo they received from the chief, others probably saw the writing on the wall. What the heck am I talking about? Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick. He wrote a heartfelt memo — well, as “heartfelt” as any money-monger businessman can muster — letting staff know that he is taking leave for a good minute. He says that for Uber 2.0 to grow and become better, as a leader he knows he must first work on “Travis 2,0.”

The ride-share company has gone through its own personal and public hell over the past years. And to borrow from yet another well-known cliche, “Too whom much is given” — even more is expected. 

During its past eight years, Uber has faced claims of sexual harassment, misconduct, departing executives, racial inequities and more in its workplace culture.

And just two months ago, one employee — an African American man who worked at the company as an engineer, was found dead in his home garage by his wife. His death was ruled a suicide; and his wife said that as an Uber employee, he faced what he obviously felt were insurmountable challenges.

Personally, in my humble opinion, I believe one sign of leadership (not qualifying it as good or bad) is someone who knows when its time to step down; if even for a while.

NBC news reports Kalanick sent the following email to Uber employees announcing his departure.

“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,” Kalanick said in an email to employees.

“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,” he said.

While this abrupt exit may seem to have come out of nowhere, many of us have learned that there are times when our personal life gives us no other choice but to “straighten up and fly right,” to re-assess what it all means. For Kalanick that lesson may have come due to the recent passing of his beloved mother in a boating accident, and the serious injury his father endured.

As much as I’d like to believe Kalanick came upon this decision to step down on his own, he may have had some…how should I say…encouragement from his Board of Directors. An investigation by former attorney general, Eric Holder, actually resulted in recommendations to the Uber board; one of which included  the call to “review and reallocate” some of Kalanick’s responsibilities to other senior managers.

In Mr. Kalanick’s case, even when he returns, it will most likely be in a diminished role.

Read more on this turn of events at Uber at NBC News. 


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