Uber changes ahead as another member of core leadership team departs

13 Jun 2017

Uber HQ in San Francisco. Image: Vincenzo_Mancuso/Shutterstock

Embattled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s inner circle continues to erode.

The troubles at scandal-ridden Uber have taken another turn as CEO Travis Kalanick’s second-in-command and a member of his so-called ‘A-Team’, Emil Michael, has left the company.

Michael was part of the leadership group that included Eric Alexander and Thuan Pham, Uber’s chief technology officer, and he was understood to have been the second most powerful person at Uber after Kalanick.

This was the core team that helped the ride-sharing app achieve a $70bn valuation and disrupt the global transport industry.

The move is seen as a dismantling of Kalanick’s inner circle and now questions are being asked about the future of the CEO himself. According to The New York Times, he is reportedly considering taking a three-month leave of absence.

Bloomberg reported that Michael was forced out of Uber by the board after an investigation into workplace harassment and culture was presented to directors on Sunday during a seven-hour meeting.

The board of Uber is now understood to be assiduously following recommendations of the Holder report, which include adding more independent board members.

Uber is also planning to appoint Wan Ling Martello, an executive vice-president at Nestlé SA, to the board.

Dismantling Silicon Valley’s corrosive ‘bro culture’

Uber has been roundly criticised for its apparent boys’ club ethos and failure to handle serious harassment claims.

Last week, news broke that Uber had fired 20 staff following an investigation into 215 claims of harassment.

Alexander was fired from the company for his alleged role in mishandling the rape case of an Uber passenger in India, whereby medical records were wrongfully obtained and kept. The incident, which occurred in New Delhi, led to Uber being banned from operating in the city.

The dismissals follow a litany of scandals to emerge in the past year.

After a blog post from former employee Susan Fowler went viral in February, Uber had to come forward and comment on allegations of the suppression of sexual harassment claims across the company structure.

In March, Uber president Jeff Jones left the company after deciding that there have been too many controversies in too little time.

The Uber board’s response to the scandals could be a watershed moment in the ongoing debate over sexism and a ‘bro culture’ in Silicon Valley.

Uber HQ in San Francisco. Image: Vincenzo_Mancuso/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years