Break likely for boss of Uber

Speculation is mounting that Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick is likely to take a leave of absence from the troubled ride-hailing company.

The speculation arose following a Sunday board meeting but it is understood no final decision has been made. It is understood Emil Michael, senior vice president and a close Kalanick ally, will leave the company.

Uber’s board met on Sunday to consider recommendations from an investigation into sexual harassment and related issues led by the law firm of former US attorney general Eric Holder.

The recommendations followed a sprawling, multi-month investigation into Uber’s culture and practices.

Mr Holder and his law firm were retained by Uber in February to investigate company practices after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing what she described as sexual harassment and the lack of a suitable response by senior managers.

The recommendations in Mr Holder’s firm’s report force greater controls on spending, human resources and other areas where executives led by Mr Kalanick have had a surprising amount of autonomy for a company with more than 12,000 employees.

The world’s most valuable venture-backed private company has found itself at a crossroads as its rough-and-tumble approach to local regulations and handling employees and drivers has led to a series of problems.

It is facing a criminal probe by the US Department of Justice over its use of a software tool that helped its drivers evade local transportation regulators.

Last week, Uber said it had fired 20 staff after another law firm looked into 215 cases encompassing sexual harassment, discrimination, unprofessional behaviour, bullying and other employee complaints. Even a temporary departure by Mr Kalanick would be a shock for the Silicon Valley startup world, where company founders in recent years have had more autonomy and often become synonymous with their firms.

Uber board member Arianna Huffington said in March that Mr Kalanick needed to change his leadership style to be more like a “leader of a major global company”.



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