Travis Kalanick has announced that he will take a temporary leave of absence as the CEO of the ride-sharing platform Uber. According to the e-mail sent by Kalanick, he will use the time away from Uber to work on himself and think about how to build a new world-class team to manage the ride-sharing company. He further admits in his email that while Uber has made him proud over the last few years, there are still many things that have to be improved within the company.
Kalanick's leave of absence comes at a time of a massive shift of leadership and policy within Uber. Recently, its board of directors commissioned a study to investigate the company's internal policies. The study was conducted by the independent law firm Covington & Burling, which is headed by the former US Attorney General Eric Holder. There were some important recommendations raised by the law firm in order to improve the company, which included the reallocation of Kalanick's responsibilities, appointment of an independent director to become the company's chairman, and the creation of an oversight committee. The first recommendation calls for the establishment of a Chief Operating Officer position. Uber has been searching for a COO for the past three months but the board has failed in finding the best candidate. Meanwhile, the latter two recommendations are necessary to bring checks and balances on management and company operations. If Kalanick returns to Uber in his current position as a CEO, he will likely have less power over the company and even so, he would have to answer to the oversight committee.
The massive changes currently taking place at Uber are a necessary step for the company to rebuild its credibility and reputation. In the past few months, Uber had to deal with public accusations of sexual harassment and widespread discrimination. In addition, the case filed by Waymo against the ride-sharing platform over stolen intellectual property is still going on. For its part, Uber has already started to improve the ride-sharing platform's internal company culture. The company has fired off 20 employees accused of misdemeanors like sexual harassment and has let go of Emil Michael, Uber's former senior vice president of business.