Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence from his role as CEO, according to a staff letter that surfaced Tuesday. He did not specify a return date. Kalanick will be stripped of some of his duties and the company will appoint an independent chair to limit his influence.
Over the weekend, a meeting was held at Uber for the company's board to vote on recommendations from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose law firm was tapped by the startup to investigate sexual harassment allegations brought by former engineer Susan Fowler in Feburary of 2016.
The board reportedly agreed to implement more oversight of parts of the company such as human resources -- a department which figured heavily in Fowler's critique of Uber. The general sense seems to be that for a company of Uber's size -- more than 12,000 employees around the world -- more controls need to be put in place.
In the several months following Fowler's allegations, a number of crises arose at Uber, including news that Uber used its technology to evade law enforcement and a video of Kalanick berating a driver.
Last week, more than 20 employees were fired in light of a separate harassment investigation than the one Holder was conducting, which was then compounded by the leak of an internal memo that Kalanick sent to the company in 2013 ahead of a retreat in Miami that included this passage:
"Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic 'YES! I will have sex with you' AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML."
Board member Arianna Huffington recently said that Kalanick had begun meditating in order to focus his decision-making process. But the company does not have dedicated meditation rooms so he opted to use a lactation room that was unoccupied at the time, a move that garnered more criticism.
Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice-president of business, resigned on Monday. In 2014, Michael came under fire for his comments that the company should research the personal lives of members of the media that were critical of Uber.
Kalanick, who recently experienced a personal tragedy with the death of his mother in a boating accident, is not be the first embattled leader to be removed or step down. Read on for nine other CEOs who left their positions.