Timeline: Uber’s rough year leads to CEO’s leave of absence
Uber has had a rough year, largely of it its own making. There have been lawsuits, allegations of sexual harassment and a profanity-laced outburst by its CEO that was caught on video.
On Tuesday, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said he will take a leave of absence for an unspecified period to grieve for his mother — who died last month — and become a better leader.
Here’s a timeline of Uber’s troubles so far this year.
__ Jan. 28: After President Donald Trump releases his first executive order on immigration, New York taxi drivers protest by refusing to pick up passengers at Kennedy Airport for an hour. Some protesters say Uber tries to capitalize on the protest by picking up passengers anyway, prompting a Twitter protest urging people to delete Uber’s app from their smartphones.
— Feb. 2: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quits President Trump’s council of business leaders amid mounting pressure from employees and customers over the immigration order.
— Feb. 19: A former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, discloses sexual harassment and sexism claims in a blog post about her year at Uber. Fowler says her boss propositioned her and higher-ups ignored her complaints. Kalanick calls Fowler’s accusations “abhorrent” and hires former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate.
— Feb. 23: Waymo, a self-driving car company spun off from Google, sues Uber. Waymo alleges that Anthony Levandowski — a former top manager for Google’s self-driving car project — stole pivotal technology from Google before leaving to run Uber’s self-driving car division.
— Feb. 28: A video emerges of Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver. It includes yelling and profanity and ends with a combative Kalanick dismissing the agitated driver’s claims that sharp reductions in fares forced him into bankruptcy. In an email to employees, Kalanick admits he needs leadership help. “I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up,” he says.
— March 3: The New York Times reveals that Uber used a phony version of its app to thwart authorities in cities where it was operating illegally. Uber’s so-called Greyball software identified regulators who were posing as riders and blocked access to them. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Uber’s use of the Greyball software.
— March 19: Uber’s president, Jeff Jones, resigns less than a year after joining the company. He tells the tech blog Recode that his approach to leadership is at odds with what he experienced at Uber.
__ April 18: Sherif Marakby, a global vice president who leads Uber’s self-driving car program, leaves the company.
— April 27: Levandowski announces he is stepping aside while Uber defends itself against the allegations from Waymo.
— May 11: A federal judge in San Francisco rejects Uber’s request for arbitration and refers Waymo’s case to the U.S. Attorney’s office for a possible criminal investigation. Days later the judge bans Uber from using technology taken from Waymo, but doesn’t order Uber to halt its self-driving vehicle program, as Waymo requested. The case is set for trial in October.
__ May 26: Kalanick’s mother dies in a boating accident. His father is seriously injured.
__ May 30: Uber fires Levandowski.
__ May 31: Uber’s finance chief Gautam Gupta says he plans to leave the company in July.
__ June 6: Uber fires 20 people after a law firm, Perkins Coie, investigates complaints of harassment, bullying and retaliation. That investigation, which was separate from Holder’s, checked into 215 complaints; 57 are still under investigation.
__ June 11: Uber’s board meets with Holder and adopts a series of recommendations based on his report.
__ June 12: Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president for business and a close ally of Kalanick, leaves the company.
__ June 13: Kalanick tells Uber employees that he’s taking a leave for an unspecified period, but will be available for “the most strategic decisions.” Uber’s board releases Holder’s recommendations, which include removing some of Kalanick’s responsibilities and replacing Uber’s chairman and founder, Garrett Camp, with an independent chairman. Holder also recommends many cultural and policy changes, from establishing an effective complaint process to recruiting more diverse applicants to prohibiting alcohol and drug use during core work hours.