Uber says changes are coming, with Executives' fates uncertain

Uber Technologies Chief Executive Travis Kalanick is likely to take a leave of absence from the troubled ride-hailing company, but no final decision has yet been made, according to a source familiar with the outcome of a Sunday board meeting.
Uber has adopted recommendations that stem from allegations of sexual harassment at the company and other employee concerns.
Uber has adopted recommendations that stem from allegations of sexual harassment at the company and other employee concerns.PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - After a Sunday meeting that lasted more than six hours, a representative for Uber Technologies' board said directors approved several changes, without providing clarity on the fates of chief executive officer Travis Kalanick or his confidant and head of business, Emil Michael.

The board approved all recommendations from an investigation it commissioned, led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, the representative said.

The ride-hailing company plans to begin implementing the changes early this week and outline them to employees at a meeting Tuesday. The company declined to comment further. On the agenda at Sunday's meeting were a possible leave of absence for Mr Kalanick and potentially parting ways with Mr Michael.

The pair's involvement in at least two incidents - the mishandling of an Indian rape victim's medical records and a visit to a Seoul karaoke bar that reportedly prompted a human-resources complaint - came up in the course of Mr Holder's probe, Bloomberg reported. It's unclear what actions Mr Holder's team suggested.

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The investigation by Mr Holder's law firm Covington & Burling and a separate examination of HR matters by Perkins Coie were provoked by allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination from former employee Susan Fowler in February. The scope soon expanded to include over 200 HR claims and resulted in the firings of more than 20 employees.

Eric Alexander, who oversaw business in Asia, departed amid reports of the India rape controversy last week. In addition to responding to a cavalcade of scandals, Mr Kalanick has had to grapple with the accidental death of his mother, whose funeral was Friday.

As attention turns to Uber's CEO and one of his deputies, the uncertainty highlights a critical weakness in the company's top ranks. In the last four months, Uber lost a president and the heads of its autonomous driving unit, finance, mapping, policy, software engineering, and product and growth. The role of chief financial officer remains open, and it's actively searching for an operating chief to provide leadership help to Mr Kalanick.

Uber is racing to fill holes in its leadership. Last week, the company said it hired Frances Frei, a Harvard Business School professor, as senior vice president for strategy and leadership, and Apple's Bozoma Saint John as chief brand officer.