Coverage: Uber president resigns after six months
Uber Technologies Inc. President Jeff Jones has quit his job after less than a year, amid controversies surrounding the ride-hailing company, including allegations of sexual harassment, although the reasons were unclear.
Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg News had the news:
The scandals range from allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic work culture to the combative behavior of Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick. After Bloomberg published a video on Feb. 28 showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver, he said he would seek “leadership help” and was planning to hire a chief operating officer. The plan was viewed internally as an effective demotion for Jones, who was hired last year as president of ride-sharing and second in command, a person familiar with the matter said.
In an email to staff on Sunday, Kalanick said Jones “made an important impact on the company” during his six months there. “After we announced our intention to hire a COO, Jeff came to the tough decision that he doesn’t see his future at Uber,” Kalanick wrote, according to a copy of the email obtained by Bloomberg.
Jones decided to leave because the long string of controversies are not what he signed on for when he left his post as chief marketing officer at Target Corp., according to Recode, which reported his departure earlier Sunday. Jones’s purview at the closely held company included Uber’s brand, which took a beating during his short tenure, largely for reasons beyond his control.
Kara Swisher and Johana Bhuiyan of Recode report that Jones didn’t like that an executive would outrank him:
Jones, said sources, determined that this was not the situation he signed on for, especially after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced a search for a new COO to help him right the very troubled ship.
That was not the reason for Jones’ departure, sources said, even though it meant that Kalanick was bringing in a new exec who could outrank him. Instead, these sources said, Jones determined that the situation at the company was more problematic than he realized.
Jones was certainly touted by Kalanick as a big hire when he arrived at Uber last fall from Target, where he was its well-regarded CMO. His job, among others, was to remake the company’s tainted image. He also was president of its main ride-sharing business.
Kalanick and Jones met just a year ago at the TED conference in Vancouver and there was much excitement that the company was attracting top-level corporate execs.
Jones replaced board member Ryan Graves, who started at the company as CEO but relinquished that role to Travis Kalanick in 2010, as president. Graves now heads up the company’s delivery business, UberEverything.
Heather Somerville of Reuters reported that Uber also faces litigation issues:
And earlier this month Uber confirmed it had used a secret technology program dubbed “Greyball,” which effectively changes the app view for specific riders, to evade authorities in cities where the service has been banned. Uber has since prohibited the use of Greyball to target local regulators.
Uber is also facing a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car division that accuses it of stealing designs for autonomous car technology known as Lidar. Uber has said the claims are false.
Jones joined Uber in August and was widely expected to be Kalanick’s No. 2. Jones was tasked with overseeing the bulk of Uber’s global operations, including leading the ride-hailing program, running local Uber services in every city, marketing and customer service, and working with drivers.
The Independent Drivers Guild, an organization that advocates for Uber drivers, on Sunday was critical that Jones “has left the company without making a single improvement to help drivers struggling to make a living,” said Ryan Price, executive director of the guild.