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MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick has stepped down as chief executive officer of the pioneering ride-hailing service, as the company reels from legal woes and controversies over its company culture.
Kalanick’s resignation on Tuesday, June 20, was triggered by after pressure from the company’s top investors, the New York Times reported Wednesday, June 21. This was later confirmed by Uber to multiple US news outlets.
The investors, the report said, made the demand to Kalanick in a letter entitled “Moving Uber Forward,” which said the company must have a leadership change and that he leave.
“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement to the Times.
The Uber board, meanwhile, said in a statement to the paper that Kalanick made a “bold decision” signifying his “devotion and love for Uber.”
“By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history,” referencing the recent death of his mother in a boating accident last May.
He will still remain part of the company’s board of directors, the report added.
He had earlier announced on June 13 that he will be taking an indefinite leave of absence, as the tech company is embroiled in a series of controversies over its leadership and company culture.
Uber, which is the world’s richest venture-backed startup valued at some $68 billion, operates in dozens of countries despite problems with regulators in many jurisdictions and protests from established taxi operators.
The pioneering company has been facing pressure to rein in a no-holds-barred management style led by Kalanick and to reform its workplace culture, which has sparked charges of harassment and discrimination.
It also faces questions about its covert use of law enforcement-evading software and tactics apparently aimed at disrupting rivals in the ridesharing business.
Earlier this month the group, based in San Francisco, parted ways with its number two executive, Emil Michael, who had reportedly been linked to a number of questionable practices at Uber, including a visit to a South Korean escort-karaoke bar and an attempt to dig up embarrassing information on journalists.
A week earlier Uber said it had fired 20 people after examining 215 claims of discrimination, harassment, unprofessional behavior and bullying.
Uber also this month released a 13-page document calling for major reforms at the company based on a probe led by former US attorney general Eric Holder, who investigated allegations of misconduct and ethical lapses.
The report, recommendations of which were adopted by the board, said Uber “should reformulate its written cultural values” to “reflect more inclusive and positive behaviors”. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com