Last month, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick was caught on tape berating a driver. In an apology posted afterwards, Kalanick admitted that his behavior was “a reflection” of himself and that he needed leadership help. A week later, he announced that the company has begun a search for a chief operating officer, someone that would be a partner to move Uber forward and basically reform Kalanick.
The official announcement did not list what Uber is looking for in its number two, nor its impact on current president Jeff Jones who joined the company in August. One potential is that the new COO would oversee all the operations of the company, including autonomous vehicles and food delivery, while Jones could be relegated to ridesharing.
Word first surfaced about Uber’s search this weekend by The Information (subscription required) and there’s reports suggesting that Kalanick’s “dream candidates” include former Disney COO Tom Staggs and CVS’ executive Helena Foulkes. Sources have also told Recode that Uber’s board would prefer a female candidate, which would bring more diversity to the company at a time when it’s dealing with allegations of sexual harassment from at least two former employees. In those incidents, Kalanick ordered an immediate independent investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Uber has also promised to release a diversity report this spring.
But beyond the sexual harassment claims and the verbal attacks on a driver, the company has also been forced to deal with a report that claimed it employed a secret tool that “greyballed” authorities to prevent drivers from being caught illegally operating in markets.
Casualties in all of this include product head Ed Baker and engineering executive Amit Singhal. The latter was believed to have been dismissed after Uber was notified of sexual harassment allegations made against Singhal when he was at Google, his previous employer.
To right the on-demand transit company once more, Uber is hoping that a competent COO will be able to teach Kalanick how to be a better leader and implement change that reshapes the company culture to be more inclusive and supportive of everyone there.