Uber president Jeff Jones steps down, cites leadership differences

20 Mar 2017

Uber taxi in New York. Image: MikeDotta/Shutterstock

Crisis-hit taxi app company loses its president after just six months.

Uber president Jeff Jones is leaving the company after deciding that there have been too many controversies in too little time.

The BBC, citing sources at the company, reported that Jones was annoyed that he wasn’t among the candidates for the chief operating officer role.

‘The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber’

“We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best,” Uber said in a stark statement.

However, Recode has reported that the real reason Jones is stepping down is because of his frustration with Uber’s ongoing issues around sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Jones said: “It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride-sharing business.”

Jones joined Uber from Target, where he was CMO. His task was to help the taxi company repair its tainted image.

Driving from one controversy to another

From early in its history, Uber has been embroiled in controversies of one sort or another but, in recent months, the controversies reached a crescendo.

Former employee Susan Fowler published a blog post with damning claims about a culture that suppressed sexual harassment claims filed by female employees. This prompted CEO Travis Kalanick to promise heads will roll if future cases are reported.

In Silicon Valley, where so-called ‘bro’ culture remains strong, an estimated 60pc of female executives have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

The controversies don’t stop there. Kalanick recently found himself the star of a video showing him losing his temper with one of the company’s drivers on a security camera.

As far back as 2014, the company was also embroiled in controversies over its hiring policies, sexist marketing campaigns and even alleged plans for smear campaigns against journalists.

Kalanick is understood to have begun the hunt for a COO to give him “leadership help.”

The move would have effectively demoted Jones, but might reassure investors who are also weary of the cycle of scandals.

Either way, it appears clear that Jones – who is believed to be personally averse to conflict – came to the decision himself that the situation was more than he bargained for.

Uber taxi in New York. Image: MikeDotta/Shutterstock

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