Midway through Tuesday evening, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s larger-than-life co-founder and CEO, resigned.
Reportedly under intense pressure from the company largest investors and shareholders, Kalanick helped drive the start-up from an obscure name in the transportation industry to a global behemoth.
Kalanick’s leadership saw the rapid expansion of Uber overseas, as well as the weathering of many controversies.
Despite spearheading a revolution in the way people view transportation, Kalanick quickly acquired an unenvious reputation. His critics pointed to an office culture long derided as misogynistic, which came to light and embroiled the company in controversy following an accusatory blog post from a disgruntled and former female employee.
Drivers, too, had their gripes with Kalanick, claiming financial woe from cost-cutting measures and slashed fares.
In India, inefficient and unreliable background checks created unsafe situations for passengers.
A woman in New Delhi was raped by an Uber driver who had been using a false identity and had years earlier been acquitted of another sexual assault.
Kalanick often responded to personal and corporate criticism aggressively – after news broke of the New Delhi rape, Uber issued a curt apology.
The woman at the epicenter of the case, referred only to in court documents as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit against Uber, Kalanick, and several other high-ranking corporate chiefs, claiming they’d mishandled and misappropriated her medical files. Kalanick was allegedly involved in a company conspiracy to convince employees that the assault and its victims somehow had ties to a rival ride-sharing company.
The controversies came to a head in spring, with Uber struggling to find a way forward as accusations of corporate sexism and misogyny poured in across media.
Investors made the decision to pressure Kalanick into extending a leave of absence he’d taken indefinitely, although he’ll remain a powerful member on Uber’s governing board.
Some employees worry that without Kalanick – aggressive, brash, and not afraid to transpose Uber on unfriendly markets – the company could lose steam.
Shareholders, on the other hand, told CNN and other outlets that Uber may have reached a point where a personality like Kalanick is no longer a necessity.
Bradley Tusk, a political consultant and Uber investor, said Uber needs a leader who balances extreme aggression with “a sense of responsibility and accountability.”
Others, according to CNN, say Uber’s size is reason enough to start moving away from its aggressive, extravagant, and mostly male-dominated roots.
“Now that Uber is at scale, I think a different type of leadership can work well and that tenacity is less important at this phase of the company,” said early Uber investor Mike Walsh.
Kalanick’s departure comes after Uber President Jeff Jones and head of business Emil Michael were forced out earlier in the year.
Days after Kalanick’s departure, Uber announced a reform of its driver compensation policies and said it would roll out a tipping feature to provide its employees with an opportunity to earn gratuity.