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Uber

Uber’s president Jeff Jones quits, as turmoil and scandals overtake ride-sharing company

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 10:53pm

The turmoil and scandals surrounding ride-sharing company Uber has claimed another victim, with company president Jeff Jones quitting less than seven months into his tenure.

Jones seemed to allude to the firm’s allegedly toxic workplace culture in a statement on Sunday, in which he said his beliefs and leadership approach were “inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber”.

The scandals at the firm range from allegations of sexual harassment and an anti-female work culture to the combative behaviour of Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick.

After Bloomberg published a video on February 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 ridesharing and second in command, a person familiar with the matter said.

In his statement, Jones said he could not continue as president of a business with which he was incompatible.

“I joined Uber because of its mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long term,” Jones said.

“It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business,” he added. Jones wished the “thousands of amazing people at the company” well.

Jones joined Uber from Target Corp, where he was chief marketing officer and is credited with modernising the retailer’s brand.

“We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best,” an Uber spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Uber’s vice-president of maps and business platform, Brian McClendon, said separately he plans to leave the company at the end of the month to explore politics.

“I’ll be staying on as an adviser,” McClendon said in a statement. “This fall’s election and the current fiscal crisis in Kansas is driving me to more fully participate in our democracy.”

Jones and McClendon are the latest in a string of high-level executives to leave the company.

Last month, engineering executive Amit Singhal was asked to resign due to a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his previous job at Alphabet Inc’s Google. Earlier this month, Ed Baker, Uber’s vice-president of product and growth, and Charlie Miller, Uber’s famed security researcher, departed.

Technology news site Recode first reported Jones’ departure on Sunday.

Uber, while it has long had a reputation as an aggressive and unapologetic startup, has been battered with multiple controversies over the last several weeks that have put Kalanick’s leadership capabilities and the company’s future into question.

A former Uber employee last month published a blog post in which she described a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished. The blog post prompted an internal investigation that is being led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

Then came the video that showed Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology.

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.

Uber, which is not publicly traded, is worth about $70 billion and operates in dozens of countries.

According to Forbes magazine, Uber’s lofty value gives Kalanick a personal net worth of $6.3 billion.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press