Travis Kalanick has resigned as chief executive of Uber – too late and without an admission of personal responsibility for the many scandals that have engulfed the ride-hailing firm he helped to found. If Uber was a normal public company, subject to even a gentle governance regime, he would have been fired years ago.
As it is, Kalanick’s resignation counts as a minor triumph for the venture capitalists who own about 40% of privately controlled Uber. Benchmark, the biggest investor, led the revolt and it’s not difficult to guess why its patience finally snapped.
First, there were the signs that the damage to Uber’s brand was affecting business. Its US rival Lyft had been gaining ground and Uber’s many fights with regulators and law enforcement agencies around the world would only become trickier as long as Kalanick remained in the driving seat.
Second, it would have been impossible for Uber to pursue a stock market listing via an IPO, or at least the supposed $68bn (£54bn) valuation would have been a fantasy. The technology bubble in the US is alive and inflating, but who would pay that kind of money for a loss-making company whose boss had become a liability?
Even now, any potential investor will want to know if Kalanick’s resignation is the real deal or a cosmetic exercise. He is staying on board in a capacity yet to be defined. Given the size of his shareholding and voting rights – Forbes has valued his wealth at $6bn – he can hardly be denied a position, and he doesn’t seem the type to sit quietly in the back making polite conversation. Uber will need to show that it can recruit a strong chief executive and then give that individual the freedom to operate and to hire other staff… [Click to read the full story]
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