Change may finally be coming to Uber.
The ridesharing giant is reportedly parting ways with Emil Michael, the company’s chief business officer and the right-hand man of CEO Travis Kalanick, according to the Wall Street Journal. There’s also talk of Kalanick taking a leave of absence.
Uber did not immediately respond to Mashable’s request for comment.
Kalanick’s full-on removal has been the topic of debate between investors and reporters like our own Lance Ulanoff., and even a leave of absence would be a significant development for the embattled exec. Kalanick has since the early days of Uber been the company’s figurehead and while not its first, its longest-running CEO. He’s been heralded by many for his business acumen. Many of Uber’s 13,000 employees fondly call him by his nickname “TK.”
And yet, Kalanick has been critiqued for poor judgment, letting a fast-growing startup turn into a company riddled with HR-related problems. While former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti blew the whistle on the company’s toxic workplace culture issues via a blog post in February, her story was far from the only one.
Michael would be the biggest name to resign amid Uber’s ongoing controversy surrounding its internal culture. This news comes just ahead of Uber’s board of directors meeting in Los Angeles on Sunday to discuss the findings of an investigation into the ride-hailing company by former attorney general Eric Holder. The investigation was conducted in wake of Fowler Rigetti’s blog post.
This isn’t the first change that’s come to Uber since that blog post, but it’s one of the most significant and overdue moves. Michael drew severe criticism for his behavior as an executive and as a human when he suggested tracking female journalists who were writing about the company.
It appears that back then Michael simply got a slap on the wrist. Now, more than two years later, he may finally be out of the company after several more scandals that included his name. Michael was in attendance at the escort-karaoke bar in Seoul, where Uber employees allegedly picked women from a line. Michael also was one of the few executives who knew that Uber’s former head of business in Asia, Eric Alexander, had shared medical records of a rape victim in India.
Michael stepping down has been discussed prior. Uber’s general counsel and several board members had advised that Michael take a leave from the company while the Holder investigation was taking place and until the results were revealed, the New York Times reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. However, Michael refused to step down, and, according to the Times, Kalanick did not force him to do so.
Michael’s departure may not be the only big change coming to Uber this week. Other media outlets have reported that Kalanick may take a leave of absence.
Last week, Uber fired more than 20 employees, following a separate investigated by Perkins Coie. The Holder investigation is allegedly much more damning for the company.