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Travis Kalanick Flees Sinking Ship

Illustration for article titled Travis Kalanick Flees Sinking Ship
Photo: Money Sharma/AFP (AP)

Christmas Eve news dump: Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, the man behind the ride-hailing company’s meteoric global rise despite its highly speculative business model that’s never turned a profit, is leaving its board of directors, Uber said in a statement on Tuesday. He’s also dumped all of his remaining stock in the company.

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Kalanick’s resignation from the board will go into effect on Dec. 31, 2019. In a statement, current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi—who was hired in large part to clean up Kalanick’s seemingly unending series of messes and scandals—wrote, “Very few entrepreneurs have built something as profound as Travis Kalanick did with Uber. I’m enormously grateful for Travis’ vision and tenacity while building Uber, and for his expertise as a board member.”

“Everyone at Uber wishes him all the best,” Khosrowshahi added.

Per CNBC, Uber’s latest public filings pegged his stake in the company was around $2.5 billion, though he’s been dumping stock since a lockup period expired in November. Kalanick will turn to “new business and philanthropic endeavors,” according to the Uber statement.

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Kalanick’s severing of his final ties with Uber comes as the company he built is facing existential threats from regulators, competitors, and the continued inability of its own business model to stop burning through billions of funding. The company’s 2019 initial public offering was the worst-performing in U.S. stock market history, while shares have continued to slide downwards.

Under Kalanick’s tenure, Uber endured numerous scandals, including labor disputes with the fleets of poorly-paid contractors that power Uber’s core taxi and delivery businesses, systemic mishandling of reports of sexual harassment in the workplace and assaults on customers, and flagrant disregard for local laws and regulations. Kalanick himself was filmed screaming at a bankrupt Uber driver in early 2017, resulting in a great deal of embarrassment.

Even after he was forced out as CEO in June 2017, Kalanick reportedly remained a major headache for the company’s management and board for months, with widespread perception that he was jockeying for a return to power. The board eventually voted to strip him of most of his remaining control; Kalanick has since become an investment fund goon and “cloud kitchens” guy, and wasn’t even invited to ring the bell at the IPO earlier this year.

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that while Kalanick was not invited to ring the bell on the balcony at the Uber IPO, he was technically present on the NYSE floor for part of the proceedings.

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DISCUSSION

Tebow Kneeled First

I understand that these guys are pouring cash into future stuff that may or may not work out but you would think they would be in the green if they just focused on being the app/platform/whatever that just hooks up riders with drivers. Should be able to run that business with a pure skeleton crew.