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Uber tries to rein in Kalanick’s bid for influence


Travis Kalanick / AFP PHOTO / WANG Zhao

Uber Technologies Inc. executives are trying to ease tensions stemming from Travis Kalanick’s attempts, in the weeks since he was ousted, to remain involved with the business and eventually seek a new role there.

Garrett Camp, an Uber co-founder and board member, sought to reassure employees on Monday that the search for a new leader is the board’s top priority. In a staff email, Camp said Kalanick won’t return as chief executive officer, responding to reports by Bloomberg and others that the former CEO had privately expressed interest in coming back to Uber in a new full-time position.

“Uber must evolve and mature,” wrote Camp, who started the company with Kalanick in 2009. “We are committed to hiring a new world-class CEO to lead Uber.”

Kalanick resigned in June under pressure from top investors, who said he put the company at legal risk during his tenure. Since then, Kalanick has been angling to retain influence in management of the company, Bloomberg reported last month. Kalanick, who still sits on the board, may eventually seek a new role for himself inside Uber to work alongside the next CEO, people familiar with the matter have said.

Salle Yoo, the company’s chief legal officer, also addressed questions about Kalanick’s prospects to return as CEO at a staff meeting last week, said a person familiar with the matter. She said the CEO search is focused on the future, not the past. The meeting was previously reported by BuzzFeed and Camp’s email by Recode. Uber declined to comment.

Uber, valued at about $69 billion by investors, is currently considering a few candidates for the top job, including former General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., had been on the short list until she publicly removed herself from contention.

Meanwhile, a potential deal between Uber and SoftBank Group Corp. remains in negotiations, which appear to be playing out in public this week. Masayoshi Son, head of the Japanese investment firm, told analysts and reporters Monday that he’s also weighing potential for an investment in Lyft Inc., the main U.S. rival to Uber. Benchmark, an Uber backer that led discussions with SoftBank for a potential share sale from early on, wrote in a tweet that it believes Uber could be “comfortably worth” more than $100 billion in two years.

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