Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Announces Leave of Absence

And when he returns, he’ll come back to a somewhat different set of responsibilities than he had when he left.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
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It wasn't hard to see it coming. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced Tuesday that he will be taking a leave of absence from the company.

The move was announced at an Uber staff meeting on Tuesday afternoon, according to Bloomberg, which was provided information regarding the decision in advance. Kalanick reportedly did not announce when he would return. When he does come back to the company, however, his job will have changed a bit; Uber's management reportedly will remove some of his responsibilities and pass some day-to-day control over to a new chief operating officer in the wake of the numerous scandals that have dogged the Silicon Valley mobility company.

Kalanick's announcement comes on the same day Uber will discuss the findings from a probe into the company conducted by former attorney general Eric Holder, whose law firm Covington & Burling LLP was brought in to examine the company's culture amidst allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment. The company released the report moments after Kalanick's temporary leave was announced, detailing 47 separate suggestions to improve the company's culture—the first of which begins, "Review and Reallocate the Responsibilities of Travis Kalanick."

Uber's board voted unanimously to adopt Holder's recommendations during a meeting at the Covington & Burling offices last Sunday, according to The New York Times

"Implementing these recommendations will improve our culture, promote fairness and accountability, and establish processes and systems to ensure the mistakes of the past will not be repeated," Uber's HR chief Liane Hornsey said in a statement on the company's website. "While change does not happen overnight, we’re committed to rebuilding trust with our employees, riders and drivers.”

Of course, Kalanick isn't just stepping back because of Uber's string of bad publicity. According to New York Times reporter Mike Isaac, Kalanick's decision was described to the ride-hailing company's staff in a company-wide email in part so he could grieve for his mother, who passed away in a boating accident last month.

The decision is Uber's latest move to steer into the public relations skid the company has found itself in. After the meeting on Sunday, the board fired senior vice-president and head of business Emil Michael. Prior to that, the company announced 20 employees had been fired in recent months after an internal investigation into sexual harassment. 

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