Uber is the 800 lb gorilla in the room. The king of the ring. The ridesharing company was the first recognized ridesharing app, giving Uber a huge competitive advantage. In fact, Uber has become so popular that people say “I’ll uber over” instead of “I’ll grab a ride there”. When your company’s name becomes a verb for what you actually sell, that’s success. But all that success is teetering right now as Uber faces more and more negative press. At risk? CEO and founder Travis Kalanick’s future position with the company.
Just How Bad are Things for Uber?
First it was legal battles with cities. Then it was driver safety issues, with riders feeling unsafe over Uber’s background checks and security measures. After that, Uber admitted to issues with their tech in certain cities, resulting in the company excessively charging drivers. Under all of that, riders were angry about Uber’s surge pricing — especially during terror events. And the icing on the cake was a bombshell article by a female Uber engineer highlighting the incredibly hostile, male dominated, sexist workplace. But the worst thing Uber has been struggling with is PR. Uber has dropped the ball on public relations throughout all of this, and the only person to blame is Travis Kalanick, Uber’s founder and CEO.
Kalanick is notorious for his brusque demeanor and inability to play nice with others. Now, everything seems to be catching up with him. Kalanick will be taking time away from the company after a tragic accident to which he lost his mother. Kalanick is grieving, and has not disclosed a date to return from his sabbatical.
In the meantime, day-to-day operations will be overseen by a committee, and many of Kalanick’s duties will be owned by an independent chair. The big question is, will he get those duties back?
Watch this news clip from New York Daily News regarding Uber CEO Travis Kalanick taking leave of absence:
Uber’s once untouchable armor is showing some major chinks as investors are trying to sell off their shares and not finding buyers. Uber’s valuation is still sky high, but that’s set to change in the near future. Unless Uber can turn the company around, Kalanick will have no choice but to go public, which will put the ridesharing giant under an entire new set of regulations. Don’t be surprised to see Kalanick’s leave of absence turned into an extended leave. A very extended leave.
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