Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Kalanick Out

Big scoop for Mike Isaac, New York Times:

Travis Kalanick stepped down Tuesday as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing service that he helped found in 2009 and that he built into a transportation colossus, after a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company.

Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.

And a rather excellent piece from the Financial Times’ Alphaville blog:

Uber Technologies Inc is an eight-year-old taxi company based in San Francisco. Its backers include some of the world’s smartest technology investors, like Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The company is at a crossroads. We are looking for a chief executive to replace our famously aggressive founder, who remains on the board and retains a ton of voting rights. Candidates will need to demonstrate experience in putting lipstick on pigs, putting out dumpster fires and leading businesses as they pivot from ‘hot mess’ to ‘performatively woke’.

Just a week ago, Kalanick took what was then a “leave of absence” of indeterminate length; now, he’s out. But unfortunately, even though he’s no longer CEO, Kalanick will still be on the board and, therefore, in a position of power. I’m sure that Uber’s culture has been created from the top down, and Kalanick’s continued board membership, voting rights, and founder status allow him to still be a figurehead for the company.

If he is involved in picking a replacement that is a good “cultural fit”, I doubt there will be many substantive changes. Uber’s internal culture is aptly named — it’s like a toxic mold, and will persist so long as any trace of it remains at the company. They can go through the motions of implementing Eric Holder’s recommendations, but nothing will make a real difference until their people commit to a completely different mental perspective.

Update: It’s worth pointing out that, while Uber has faced constant controversy since it launched, you can draw a direct link between Susan Fowler’s February post and Kalanick’s ousting.