It can be called a story of, one disaster leading to another disaster, or just another Silicon Valley multimillion-dollar startup, gone hay. Whatever people may call it, the truth is, Mr. Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber from 2010, has been asked to step down as the CEO of Uber by the investors and he obliged. He has resigned yesterday. What went wrong and what’s the story behind it?
The history: Travis is the founder of two companies Red Swoosh and Uber. Though Uber is not his idea. The idea belongs to Garrett Camp (Cofounder of Stumbleupon), Travis joined Garrett Camp and the team under the capacity of “Mega Advisor “to the company. After all the strategy hard work and advisory that happened in the chambers of Silicon Valley, in 2010 finally, Travis succeeded Ryan Graves as CEO of Uber.
The Growth: From 2010 – 2017, Uber witnessed the sparkling journey from a Ride-hailing startup to a Global Tech giant all under the smart and aggressive leadership of Travis. Uber runs its operations in 66 countries and in more than 500 cities around the world. In 2014, Travis entered the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans at position 190, with an estimated net worth of US$6.3 billion. According to Reuters, he has “a reputation as an abrasive leader”. Everything went well and as per the plan.
The trouble began earlier this year when the company has been exposed to various legal suits, federal investigations, social media badmouthing, PR crisis, cultural issues and also personal issues of Travis.
Work Place Culture Issues: The Company has been exposed to many internal people as having a workplace culture that includes Sexual Harassment and discrimination. The company was already dealing with many such cases internally and also was struggling with legal complaints.
Law Enforcement Issue: Under Kalanick’s aggressive and abrasive style of leadership, the company was pushing all the limits within or outside the law to achieve the mark of being a leader in the industry segment, because of which company was dealing with law enforcement and even partners.
Intellectual property Issue: Company was already fighting an intellectual property lawsuit against Waymo – Self-driving car business which operates under name of Google’s parent company for a software tool that Uber uses. This is already under federal investigation.
Competitor Issues: So many similar services, cloning-businesses were cropping up all over the world. The company was already facing tough competition from similar services with cheaper margins and was using all possible measures to stay on the top.
HR Issues: To professionalize the workplace of Uber, keeping in mind the various Work culture issues and sexual harassment cases and so much of foul mouthing on the social media, more than 20 employees of Uber were fired earlier this year. The search began for new key executives including the CEO of the company.
The personal Issue: Last month Travis faced a major personal blow. His mother died suddenly in a boating accident, Bonnie Kalanick, (71), his mother had a very close relationship with him and Travis took the time to get over this personal loss.
June 13, 2017 – The indication of the blow was announced, when on June 13, Travis announced “An indefinite leave of absence”, he wanted to deal with himself and also he was grieving for his mom. He wanted this time to balance and sort things a little.
The final blow: June 20th: Earlier on Tuesday, as anticipated by Travis already, he received a letter from five of Uber’s major investors titled as “Moving Uber Forward”. Travis received this letter in Chicago. He was told that the company needs to change in leadership and he must step down as CEO. Travis had a long discussion after this letter was received, with investors, and finally, he decided to step down. He resigned on Tuesday 20th June. Though he still on Uber’s board.
His closing statement:
“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight”
No Matter what, Travis Kalanick will always be an inspiration to many. He is the man who made Uber into a $70 billion juggernaut. Hats off!