Travis Kalanick won't return as CEO of Uber, co-founder Garrett Camp says

Rumors have been circulating that Uber’s former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, is angling for a return to the helm of the ride-hailing company.

Now, it seems, Uber co-founder and board member Garrett Camp wants to lay those rumors to rest.

“Our CEO search is the board’s top priority,” Camp wrote in a Monday email to staffers, which was obtained by Recode. “It’s time for a new chapter and the right leader for our next phase of growth. Despite rumors I’m sure you’ve seen in the news, Travis is not returning as CEO. We are committed to hiring a new world class CEO to lead Uber.”

Recode reported last week that Kalanick, who is still on Uber’s board, was telling people he was “Steve Jobs-ing it” — a reference to the Apple co-founder who was ousted from his company but later made a triumphant return.

Uber declined to comment Tuesday on the hiring process and on the report about Camp’s email.

Kalanick resigned as CEO in June after a spate of high-profile scandals, and it’s not yet clear who will fill his shoes.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman was floated as a candidate, but she announced in late July that she would not take the job.

Uber board members have whittled the list of potential chief executives to three candidates — all men, departing General Electric chief Jeff Immelt among them — according to a Washington Post report that said the board is expected to make a decision before Labor Day.

Uber is no stranger to controversy, having sparred with regulators, fought lawsuits from disgruntled drivers and been accused by competitors of playing dirty. Kalanick, who co-founded Uber with Camp, was credited for its success and was long seen as untouchable.

But the relentless string of scandals that erupted this year proved too much even for him.

Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote a blog post in February accusing the company of systemic sexual harassment and cover-ups. Video emerged showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver. A former executive was accused of violating a passenger’s privacy by mishandling her medical records. The company was sued by Google’s self-driving vehicle arm, which accused Uber of stealing its trade secrets. An independent investigation into the company’s culture commissioned by Uber’s board resulted in 20 terminations and the recommendation that the company take away some responsibilities from Kalanick.

Kalanick resigned under pressure from investors, who believed Uber would not be able to turn over a new leaf with him still at the helm. A team of executives who once reported directly to Kalanick are now running the company while it searches for a new chief executive.

The appointment of a new chief executive is an opportunity for Uber to signal to investors, employees, drivers and consumers that, after spending the last eight months embroiled in political and legal controversy, it is turning over a new leaf.

The company needs a leader who can implement the recommendations of a report by former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to change Uber’s culture of bullying and harassment, secure deals and eventually lead the firm toward an expected initial public offering.

alexa.d’angelo@latimes.com

Twitter: @andangelo15

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UPDATES:

6:10 p.m.: This article was updated to include more context on Uber’s CEO search.

This article was originally published at 9:55 a.m.

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