The president of Uber and another prominent executive are leaving the company in the latest sign of tumult as the ride-hailing service continues to grapple with months of scandal.
In the past three months, the San Francisco-based company has faced criticisms from both customers and investors after controversies raised questions about how the company is managed. Meanwhile, senior leaders in departments that oversee marketing, engineering, research and product development have stepped down.
Jeff Jones joined Uber last September to serve as president of its ride-sharing business after a stint as Target’s chief marketing officer. At the time, chief executive Travis Kalanick said Jones would work to integrate Uber’s marketing efforts with its operations in various cities. His departure comes just weeks after Kalanick said he would seek “leadership help” and announced plans to hire a chief operating officer following the release of video showing Kalanick’s confrontation with an Uber driver.
Jones told tech news site Recode: “It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.”
Recode first reported the departures, and they were later confirmed by a spokeswoman.
“We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best,” the company said in a statement.
Also departing this month is Brian McClendon, the vice president of maps and business platform. He plans to return to his native Kansas and explore a career in politics, he said in a statement provided by the company. “This fall’s election and the current fiscal crisis in Kansas is driving me to more fully participate in our democracy — and I want to do that in the place I call home,” he said.
They join a larger exodus of executives since Uber’s troubles began in January. According to media reports, others to depart the company in recent months include Ed Baker, the vice president for product and growth; Raffi Krikorian, a senior engineering director, and Gary Marcus, who led Uber’s artificial intelligence lab.
Uber’s senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, left the company in February after he did not disclose a sexual harassment accusation was made against him at Google, his previous employer, Recode reported.
The departures come as Uber tries to contain the fallout from recent controversies.
Uber was the subject of a consumer boycott after the company continued to operate during a taxicab strike at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport following President Trump’s first travel ban. An estimated 200,000 users deleted the Uber app and the company saw a 10 percent drop in riders, according to one recent study. Kalanick stepped down as an economic adviser to Trump as a result.
Then, a former employee published allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company, including accusations that the human resources department did not properly handle complaints from female employees. The company hired former attorney general Eric Holder to help lead a review of those accusations and the company’s discrimination policies.
The sexual harassment allegations elicited a strong rebuke from Mitch Kapor and Fraeda Kapor Klein, early investors in Uber who also champion diversity in the tech industry. In an open letter, the pair said they had been working internally to change Uber’s culture but are “concerned that the company will try to manage its way past this crisis and then go back to business as usual.”
Last month, Google’s self-driving arm, Waymo, filed a lawsuit against Uber, alleging that its technology was modeled off stolen intellectual property. Waymo has accused three former employees of taking trade secrets to Uber and asked a judge to bar Uber from using the technology until the matter is settled. One of those former employees, Anthony Levandowski, left Google to found the self-driving technology company Otto, which Uber later acquired for $680 million.
Uber has denied those accusations and called Waymo’s lawsuit “a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor.”
Kalanick was also caught on video in an argument with one of the company’s drivers, who confronted the chief executive about introducing lost-cost services, such as Uber X, that are less lucrative for drivers. After the video surfaced, Kalanick publicly apologized and said he would seek “leadership help.”
Finally, a report in the New York Times outlined Uber’s use of a secret tool to evade regulators in cities where it was not allowed to operate. The company said it would review how it uses the software — which allows the company to display the app differently to individual users — and prohibited “its use to target action by local regulators going forward,” the company said.