The news about the resignation of Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, from the position of CEO of the company has raised several questions regarding the future of the company.
Uber, a privately-held company, has a valuation of around USD 70 billion and is the world’s most valuable venture-funded tech start-up. However in recent times, it has attracted a lot of negative publicity. There have been several allegations including sexual harassment, sexist HR practices, covert use of law enforcement-evading software, illegal obtainment of medical records of a customer who was raped by an Uber driver in India, lawsuits by drivers and allegations of intellectual-property theft. The release of a leaked video, showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver, who complained to him about pay, directly pointed fingers at the attitude and maturity of the former CEO.
There is no denying the fact that Travis Kalanick is an asset and has been a driving force behind the success of Uber. However at the same time, his personality, the work culture that developed under his leadership as well as the recent controversies has negatively impacted the image of the company.
Following an assessment by former US attorney general Eric Holder, Uber’s management and investors felt that there is a need of significant changes. With Kalanick’s resignation, Uber now needs to fill three significant positions in the top management –CEO, COO and CFO. Uber needs to change the image among the employees and drivers and has the perfect opportunity to do so. By bringing in leaders who are able to create a healthy work culture and are also growth-oriented, Uber would be able to put the controversies in the past and march ahead.
But is Travis Kalanick completely out? The answer is NO. He will still own a major portion of the company and will remain a board of director. Moreover, due to the structure, Kalanick and other co-founders have a high number of ‘super-voting shares’. So he has clearly not stepped away from Uber but has just stepped aside.
His involvement in the decisions and directions may not be detrimental. He was immensely successful in penetrating and creating a foothold in markets, where Uber encountered relentless protests from local taxi unions and had to overcome hurdles presented by regulators. The presence of changed and mature Travis Kalanick could significantly contribute to the emergence of a stronger Uber 2.0.
Animesh Kumar is Associate Director with Frost & Sullivan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org