The founder of Uber, Travis Kalanick, was reportedly in tears at an all-staff meeting yesterday, at which his successor as chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, was introduced.
Kalanick received a standing ovation from his former employees, but there’s no denying that 2017 has been a tough year, with almost non-stop troubles and scandals giving the new boss a rather long to-do list.
First up, he needs to get hiring. The string of departures at Uber this year has been stark and a leadership chart of the startup has more holes than Swiss cheese.
Current vacancies which need filing include: finance chief, chief operating officer, head of engineering, operations chief, head of driverless car tech, chief business officer and president.
Khosrowshahi also needs to consider how to boost morale. Reports suggest that some employees have been trying to sell their shares in the company but have been finding it difficult.
Khosrowshahi could loosen up its policy on secondary share trading as an olive branch. This could also have the added bonus of making it more attractive to new recruits.
There’s also a cultural change to oversee, which includes addressing the issue of sexism which was brought to light by a whistleblower and investigated in the Holder report. It’s by no means the only Silicon Valley startup to be accused of having a “bro” culture, but the new boss will be charged with changing this perception internally and publicly. For his part, Khosrowshahi recognised the issues. He told Bloomberg in his first interview since being appointed: “It’s definitely a problem inside the technology industry.”
It will also be necessary to placate founder and ousted chief executive Travis Kalanick, who retains a seat on the board alongside early investor Benchmark, whose ongoing legal row with Kalanick is unlikely to generate a convivial boardroom atmosphere.
On top of all this, there’s the business of actually running the company which is still a global, multi-billion dollar firm with ambitions, one assumes, to turn a profit one day.
With a raft of legacy issues and a range of ongoing legal and regulatory disputes, Khosrowshahi will have to get the right balance between crisis fire-fighting and rebuilding a solid foundation for a successful tech business. Investors will be watching.
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