After claims of sexual harassment and a lawsuit filed by Alphabet claiming they stole driving technology, Uber is facing a rough first quarter as it seeks a chief operating officer that can help CEO Travis Kalanick to “write the next chapter” in the company’s journey.
The announcement was made at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco. Reportedly, Kalanick is reaching out to business advisers to direct him on Uber’s next steps.
News outlets claim that Kalanick resorted to the announcement after a video was leaked, showing him yelling at an Uber driver. This, coupled with several sexual harassment claims has made Kalanick recognize that the company needs an urgent change in direction.
Uber seeks guidance on its most controversial months
Boosted by the #DeleteUber campaign, the company is now facing reactive behavior by investors and customers due to allegations of sexist behavior. One of the cases concerns Susan Fowler, a former engineer working for Uber.
Fowler joined the company in 2015 as a site reliability engineer. As soon as he officially joined the team, her manager sent her messages over the company’s messaging app. He told her he was in an open relationship and that his girlfriend had a hard time finding a new partner. He went on by saying that he was “looking for women to have sex with.” Fowler took screenshots of the incident and reported him to Human Resources.
After reporting the situation, HR told Fowler that it was the manager’s first offense and that they would not be taking harsh measures against him. According to higher managers, he was a “high performer.” She then decided to stay on the team to further work on the projects that she knew most about but eventually decided to go to another of the company’s teams, one based in production-readiness.
As Fowler got to know more of Uber’s female employees, she realized that many of them had similar stories to hers, some of them having to do with the same manager. She got to know about another report concerning the man, which was yet again regarded as a “first offense.”
“In the background, there was a game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management in the infrastructure engineering organization. It seemed like every manager was fighting their peers and attempting to undermine their direct supervisor so that they could have their direct supervisor’s job,” she confessed in a blog post.
Concerning the lawsuit, Alphabet sued Uber for stealing trade secrets. Apparently, one of Alphabet’s self-driving engineers disclosed confidential files to Uber, including designs that allowed him to create Otto, a self-driving truck startup and then sell it to Uber.
Uber, on the other hand, is denying the claims. If the lawsuit passes, the funding deal will be damaged by the firm’s own investors. Any damage made to Uber would potentially result in damages to Google Ventures, which is Alphabet’s main investing unit behind self-driving vehicles.
Source: USA Today