Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced Tuesday that he is taking a leave of absence from the ride-hailing company amid repeated scandals and an investigation into the company’s culture. And during an all-hands meeting at the company today to announce findings and changes, a joke was made at the expense of women.
In an email to employees, Kalanick, who also lost his mother recently, did not disclose how long he would be away from the company, but said that he needed to take time off to “focus on building out a world-class leadership team.” Here is the full email:
For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber. Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.
The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders. There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve. For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.
During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. 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.
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. The incredible outpouring of heartfelt notes and condolences from all of you have kept me strong but almost universally they have ended with ‘How can I help?’. My answer is simple. Do your life’s work in service to our mission. That gives me time with family. Put people first, that is my mom’s legacy. And make Uber 2.0 real so that the world can see the inspired work all of you do, and the inspiring people that make Uber great.
See you soon,
The move comes as a report on an investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was presented to Uber’s board. Holder’s law firm, Covington & Burling, was hired to look into allegations of harassment and sexual discrimination and a crisis of circumstances sparked by a Feb. 19 blog post by former engineer Susan Fowler.
The recommendations in the report, including the call for a diminished role for Kalanick at the company, can be viewed in this document.
“This morning, employees were presented the recommendations from Covington & Burling that were unanimously approved by the Board on Sunday,” Liane Hornsey, chief HR officer at Uber, said in a statement. “Implementing these recommendations will improve our culture, promote fairness and accountability, and establish processes and systems to ensure the mistakes of the past will not be repeated. While change does not happen overnight, we’re committed to rebuilding trust with our employees, riders and drivers.”
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.
<pp” data-reactid=”21″>“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.
<pp” data-reactid=”22″>“Actually what it shows is it’s much likely to be more talking,” Uber board member David Bonderman said.
<pp” data-reactid=”23″>“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.
from a source, this is Bonderman's apology, fwded from Liane Hornsey to all employees. pic.twitter.com/a3YhbvaRqs
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) June 13, 2017
Man. It is staggering to have to apologize for a offensive remark towards women made in the middle of a “culture change” presentation.
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) June 13, 2017
Bonderman, the chairman of TPG Capital who has a net worth of $2.5 billion, recently joined the investment group heading up the Key Arena renovation in Seattle.