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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Resigns After Demand from Investors

Travis Kalanick promised to reinvent his company as "Uber 2.0" after a string of scandals — but investors ran out if patience and demanded he quit.
Image: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick delivers a speech at the Third Netease Future Technology Conference in Beijing, China on June 28, 2016.Wang K'aichicn / VCG via Getty Images, file

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick quit as CEO late Tuesday after a revolt from the ride-sharing start-up's biggest shareholders following a string of scandals including claims of sexual harassment and misconduct.

He accepted a request from investors to resign, having already agreed to a leave of absence after a report by former Attorney General Eric Holder on the ride-sharing giant's workplace culture and leadership.

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Kalanick's exit came in response to intense pressure from five major investors in the form of a letter, according to the New York Times. The investors told Kalanick that it was time for new leadership, the Times reported.

Kalanick has overseen Uber since its creation in 2009 through its growth to a $68 billion Silicon Valley giant.

“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 said in a statement.

"This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber"

He will remain on the company's board of directors.

Kalanick told employees a week ago that he was taking an undetermined leave of absence following Holder's report, which recommended a shake-up in the company's top structure. It also came after his mother died in a boating accident and his father was seriously injured.

He said new leadership was necessary "for Uber 2.0 to succeed."

In a statement, Uber hailed Kalanick’s exit as a “new chapter” for the company.

"Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber,” it said. “By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history. We look forward to continuing to serve with him on the board."

The company’s problems were laid bare last week when board member David Bonderman was caught making a sexist remark during an all-hands meeting to discuss workplace sexism. He quit after the comment, made to fellow board member Arianna Huffington, was caught on audio and released by Yahoo Finance.

The company had already been conducting a search for a chief operating officer, and Uber's Chief Business Officer Emil Michael left the company last month. President Jeff Jones departed earlier this year after less than one year on the job.

Two investigations were commissioned in February after Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, published a blog post where she alleged that she was propositioned for sex on her first day on the job, was repeatedly blocked from advancement, and found Uber's human resources department unwilling to take action on sexual harassment claims she and other female employees filed.

A report from law firm Perkins Coie resulted in 20 people being fired, as of June 6. Two employees were to be given additional training, and five more were issued final warnings.