Uber Technologies Inc co-founder Travis Kalanick stepped down as chief executive of the ride-hailing service, following intense pressure from investors, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.
According to a report in the New York Times, Uber’s five major investors had demanded that the chief executive resign immediately and made their demand in a letter that was delivered to Kalanick.
“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick told NYT in a statement.
The problems for Kalanick started earlier this year after a former Uber engineer alleged sexual harassment at the company.
Susan Fowler, a former site reliability engineer, levelled numerous allegations of sexism against her former superiors in a lengthy blog post. Her blog was widely shared online and prompted the company to launch an internal investigation.
This led to further allegation from other employees, prompting the company to conduct internal investigations.
Last week, Kalanick said he was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons, an announcement that came at a time when the company is dealing with a series of workplace scandals.
Kalanick's decision to step aside comes after an internal investigation conducted by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, a probe the company launched due to allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Holder said that Uber should “review and reallocate the responsibilities of Travis Kalanick” and search for a chief operating officer who would work closely with the new CEO to improve Uber's corporate culture.
Holder also recommended that COO candidates have backgrounds in diversity and inclusion, saying that would reinforce “actions resulting from recommendations... relating to tone at the top and the need to focus on diversity and inclusion at Uber.”
San Francisco-based Uber, the world’s largest ride-hailing app, has already fired 20 employees -- including some in senior positions -- after evaluating more than 200 claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and unprofessional conduct.
The ride-hailing app, which has roughly 12,000 employees, hired the services of Holder to look into the company's work culture and contracted law firm Perkins Coie to review the specific harassment allegations.