Uber boss takes leave of absence: "I need to work on myself"

Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Travis Kalanick told employees yesterday 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.

"There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve", Kalanick continued in the letter.

Other important changes will be to increase Uber's board independence from the company, to create a separate ethics and culture committee or similar committees, to use compensation to hold senior leaders accountable and to eliminate certain company values like "Let Builders Build" and "Always Be Hustlin'", which were used in the past to justify bad behavior.

Uber simultaneously released a 13-page document calling for major reforms at the company based on a probe led by former USA attorney general Eric Holder, who investigated allegations of misconduct and ethical lapses.

Kalanick's time off and the Eric Holder recommendations come soon after there were reports that the company's board might ask him to take three months off amid the growing complaints. Uber's board unanimously accepted those suggestions.

Amid a wave of sexual harassment claims and gender discrimination, Holder and Albarran recommended "changes to employee policies and practices".

Additionally, Holder suggests that Uber should conduct performance reviews for top executives, implement more careful oversight of its board and place a greater emphasis on diversity efforts within the company.

Under Kalanick, Uber has disrupted the taxi industry in hundreds of cities and turned the San Francisco-based company into the world's most valuable startup.

Travis Kalanick at an event in New Delhi on December 16.

When Huffington spoke of bringing another woman to the board, fellow board member David Bonderman commented that this would lead to "more talking". The company is also grappling with a Justice Department review of its reported use of Greyball software to evade law enforcement and a high-profile legal challenge from Alphabet's Waymo unit over self-driving vehicle technology.

Uber, which has a private equity value of $US68 billion, is widely tipped to list this year. In January, Kalanick dropped out of President Trumps economic advisory group before its first meeting after protests outside the company's headquarters, employee dissent, and a #DeleteUber backlash that inspired about 200,000 users to delete their accounts.

The report recommends a massive overhaul for the company accused of promoting a toxic "bro culture" under Kalanick's leadership.

Other changes will include mandatory leadership training for senior management and the establishment of a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. In the eight years of its existence, Uber has been facing severe criticism about his work culture in various countries.

  • Carolyn Briggs