CEO and cofounder of Uber Travis Kalanick told staff members Tuesday he will take a leave of absence following the abrupt death of his mother in a recent boating accident, CNN reports.
Kalanick’s departure comes at an inopportune time for the corporation, just before an important meeting regarding a months-long investigation into Uber’s office culture performed by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Kalanick released a memo citing the reasons behind his absence. “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.”
Over the last several months, Uber has been hit with a barrage of negative press coverage, causing major introspection into the company’s culture and leadership. Perhaps the most notable of these claims was a blog post from a woman named Susan Fowler, containing allegations of sexism and harassment that went ignored by Uber management. These claims have cast investor cynicism on the startup, currently valued at around $68 billion.
Last week, Uber released over 20 high ranking managers in response to another investigation from an independent law firm. One of these firings was Emil Michael, the Senior Vice President of Business, the highest ranking employee to leave the company. Dozens of others were assigned mandated training or counseling. Though Susan Fowler was not satisfied by these changes, some investors think positively about the company’s future.
ICYMI and in light of today’s announcement, here are five things Uber can do to prove they are dedicated to changing their company culture: https://t.co/M59M44JTYI
— Susan J. Fowler (@susanthesquark) June 6, 2017
“The recommendations are both thoughtful and extensive, and we are very encouraged that they have taken this as seriously as we had hoped,” said Mitch and Freada Kapor, some of Uber’s earliest financial backers.
The Kapors, who had previously chastised Uber’s corporate culture over the allegations, added that the leadership shakeup and management changes showed “sincerity of action.”
Regardless of investor optimism, Uber faces several immediate challenges if it intends to succeed in the future. Kalanick stated before his departure that Uber would be left in the hands of his leadership team. This team, however, is far from complete. The company currently has no COO, CMO, CFO, or president.