Uber board member quits over sexist joke

Mr David Bonderman, co-founder of TPG Capital, has since apologised for the comment he made at a meeting to address gender bias at Uber.
Mr David Bonderman, co-founder of TPG Capital, has since apologised for the comment he made at a meeting to address gender bias at Uber.

SAN FRANCISCO • TPG Capital co- founder David Bonderman has resigned from the board of Uber Technologies after uttering a sexist comment during a meeting intended to address rampant internal gender bias and other issues.

The billionaire co-founder of the private equity firm apologised for cracking a joke during the charged company-wide meeting. 

Mr Bonderman cut in when fellow board member Arianna Huffington was speaking about how the presence of a woman on the board was likely to attract other females.

According to a person who heard the exchange but was not authorised to discuss it, Ms Huffington said: "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."

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Mr Bonderman responded: "Actually, what it shows is that it's much more likely to be more talking."

Among the Uber employees in the room, there were audible gasps and blank stares, according to another person at the meeting.

Uber and TPG confirmed the resignation of Mr Bonderman, 74, who founded TPG in 1992 with Mr Jim Coulter, and has served as its chairman since 2014. He is also on the board of several companies.

In an e-mailed statement, Mr Bonderman wrote: "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."

After the meeting, Mr Bonderman apologised personally to Ms Huffington, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorised to speak about it. 

The Huffington Post founder said in a statement later that her fellow director was "doing the right thing".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Uber board member quits over sexist joke'. Print Edition | Subscribe