Billionaire David Bonderman has resigned from Uber’s board, just a few hours after audio leaked of a sexist comment he made during an all-hands meeting meant to focus on changing the culture at the ride-hailing giant.
Bonderman, who is the founder of TPG Capital, has deep ties to the Seattle area. His company last month acquired Kirkland, Wash.-based Wave Broadband for $2.36 billion with plans to combine it with RCN Telecom Services to form the nation’s sixth largest internet and cable operator.
Bonderman got his undergraduate degree in Russian at the University of Washington in 1963 before going on to Harvard Law School. Through a donation from Bonderman in 1995, UW established the Bonderman Travel Fellowship program. The program allows students to “undertake independent international travel to explore, be open to the unexpected, and come to know the world in new ways,” according to its website.
Bonderman, who is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics, also recently joined the effort by Oak View Group to renovate Key Arena.
His departure was first reported by The New York Times.
Bonderman’s comment came during an all-hands meeting Tuesday where the company announced its CEO Travis Kalanick is taking a leave of absence from the ride-hailing company amid the death of his mother, repeated scandals at the company and an investigation into the company’s culture, sparked by a Feb. 19 blog post by former engineer Susan Fowler that included allegations of harassment and sexual discrimination.
Later Tuesday, Yahoo Finance published an exclusive audio recording leaked from inside the all-hands meeting, in which Uber board member Arianna Huffington and others spoke. Huffington addressed the absence of Kalanick and discussed the addition of another 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,” Huffington said, around six minutes into the recording.
“Actually what it shows is it’s much more likely to be more talking,” Bonderman said.
“Oh. Come on, David,” Huffington said, according to Yahoo. The story says that his comment stunned the room and was met by outrage on social media. New York Times reporter Mike Isaac was tweeting throughout, and Bonderman later apologized.
Bonderman, whose company TPG is an Uber investor, worked with Uber on the investigation of the company’s culture. He released the following statement apologizing for his comments and announcing his resignation from the board. TPG will keep a seat on Uber’s board.
Today at Uber’s all-hands meeting, I directed a comment to my colleague and friend Arianna Huffington that was careless, inappropriate, and inexcusable. The comment came across in a way that was the opposite of what I intended, but I understand the destructive effect it had, and I take full responsibility for that.
Having worked with the company for the last few months on the Holder report, I recognize the importance of implementing the requirements of the report. Uber is examining the issues with its culture, and making significant changes and working to right what has been done wrong, which is extremely important for the future of the company. I do not want my comments to create distraction as Uber works to build a culture of which we can be proud.
I need to hold myself to the same standards that we’re asking Uber to adopt. Therefore, I have decided to resign from Uber’s board of directors, effective tomorrow morning. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on Uber’s board, and I look forward to seeing the company’s progress and future success.