Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Takes a Leave of Absence

Heather Somerville and Joseph Menn, Reuters:

Chief Executive Travis Kalanick told employees on Tuesday he will take time away from the company he helped to found, citing the need to grieve for his recently deceased mother and to work on his leadership skills, according to an email from Kalanick seen by Reuters.

Kalanick, 40, did not say how long he would be away from Uber, the ride-hailing firm that he helped turn into the world’s most valuable venture-backed company, but has run into problems due to its rough-and-tumble approach to regulations and its own employees.

“During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company,” Kalanick wrote in his email. “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.”

Progress — to some degree or another. Not only does Kalanick need to deal with a family tragedy — and rightfully so — the time off should allow the company to start putting in place the recommendations from the report by Eric Holder and Tammy Albarrán. Their suggestions include everything from limiting Kalanick’s power and responsibilities, to reducing a workaholic culture by rescheduling catered dinners to an earlier time.

While Kalanick says that the leadership team will be running Uber while he’s absent, there seem to be very few people left on that team. Who, exactly, is going to be running the company?

Update: Yahoo Finance was sent a copy of the audio from the all-hands internal meeting announcing Kalanick’s leave (autoplaying video warning):

While speaking, Huffington pointed out that Uber was adding a woman to its board, Wan Ling Martello.

“There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” she said.

“Actually what it shows is it’s much likely to be more talking,” Uber board member David Bonderman said.

This happened seven minutes into a meeting addressing pervasive sexism within the company. Seven minutes is all it took for one of the assholes in charge of the company to make a sexist remark. Kalanick may be absent, and many of his ilk may have left the company, but their rotten attitudes remain.

Update: Now Bonderman is off the board. Who knows — maybe they are serious about clearing out all the assholes.