MANHATTAN (CN) - Ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is stepping down from the board of directors, severing his last remaining ties with the ride-hailing startup that he co-founded a decade ago and ran until a series of scandals led to his removal in 2017.
The co-founder’s departure, announced Tuesday and effective Dec. 31, 2019, did not come as a surprise; Kalanick recently offloaded more than $2.5 billion worth of Uber stock, representing more than 90% of his holdings of the innovative tech company.
"Uber has been a part of my life for the past 10 years," the 43-year-old entrepreneur said in a statement Tuesday. “At the close of the decade, and with the company now public, it seems like the right moment for me to focus on my current business and philanthropic pursuits.”
Kalanick joined the company as CEO in December 2010, about seven months after it launched, and quickly placed it on its path toward ascent, attracting investors such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Jay-Z.
Some 15 billion trips later, Uber’s widespread international success is credited with accelerating the modern gig economy.
The Financial Times named Kalanick its “Boldness in Business 2015 Person of the Year.” He was a runner-up for Time magazine’s 2015 Person of the Year, but resigned as CEO in the summer of 2017 with the company ensnared in lawsuits.
In 2017, a former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, leveled sexual harassment and sexism allegations in a blog post about her year at Uber. Fowler said a boss — not Kalanick — sexually harassed her and human resources covered it up because he was a high performer.
Kalanick called the accusations "abhorrent" and hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the company’s corporate culture.
Uber grew rapidly under Kalanick’s aggressive approach, but, like a number of Silicon Valley startups, the disruptive tech company has been the focus of allegations of a misogynist workplace culture and corporate misconduct.
Days after Fowler’s accusations, Waymo, the self-driving car company spun off from Google, sued Uber. Waymo alleged that a top manager at Google stole pivotal technology from the company before leaving to run Uber's self-driving car division.
Then, The New York Times revealed Uber’s use of a software tool known as “Greyball” that helps its drivers evade local authorities trying to clamp down on the popular ride service and block access to them.
The U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the program.
After Kalanick's ouster, former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrwoshahi was brought on to clean up Uber's image and steer the company to its stock market debut in May. But Uber's stock floundered and fell almost 11% in its first day of trading as a public company. It has tumbled more than 30% since.
In March 2018, Uber agreed to pay $10 million and roll out a series of workplace reforms to settle claims it systematically underpays female and racial minority software engineers.
“I want to thank Travis for his service as a director on the board,” said Ron Sugar, the independent Chairperson of the Uber Board. “His unique expertise, honed over 10 years building Uber from a scrappy startup into the global public company it is today, will be missed. On behalf of the entire board, I wish him the best of luck with his new endeavors.”
One of Kalanick’s largest investments since leaving Uber has been CloudKitchens, which bets on fully furnished rental commercial kitchens becoming a backbone of the rapidly growing food-delivery market, through apps like UberEasts, Doordash and Caviar.