The majority of Uber’s investors may have wanted its co-founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick out, but some employees of the ride-hailing company are already calling for his return.
SAN FRANCISCO — The majority of Uber’s investors may have wanted its co-founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick out, but some employees of the ride-hailing company are already calling for his return.
In a petition that began circulating within Uber on Wednesday, employees called for Uber’s board of directors to reinstate Kalanick, who resigned Tuesday evening after pressure from investors and months of scandals.
“Yes, Travis is flawed, as we all are,” the petition reads. “But his passion, vision, and dedication to Uber are simply unmatched. We would not be here today without him, and believe he can evolve into the leader we need. He is critical to our future success.”
The petition calls for Kalanick’s return in an operational role.
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News site Axios reported Thursday that some 1,000 employees had signed the petition. Uber has around 12,000 nondriver employees.
Uber declined to comment on the petition, but a person familiar with the matter confirmed that it started circulating Wednesday, and that the company’s management has not yet addressed it.
Kalanick was a polarizing chief executive, seen as both a brilliant visionary who led the company to dominance and the source of a toxic culture outlined in two independent investigations into the company.
His departure was orchestrated by investors who did not believe he had the chops to turn the company around after a relentless spate of controversies.
The company’s internal troubles had also spilled out into the public, and a recent survey of Uber passengers conducted by media and technology company Morning Consult found that of around 1,700 surveyed participants, 57 percent were aware of claims of bullying, sexism and sexual harassment at the company.
Such awareness of a company’s internal problems is “pretty high,” especially for service used by 20 to 30 percent of the U.S. population, according to Jeff Cartwright, a spokesman for Morning Consult.
By comparison, a nationwide topic, such as the Affordable Care Act, records around 70 percent awareness.
Of those surveyed, 13 percent said they had stopped using the Uber app altogether because of the scandals.
Among customers who had stopped using the app, 28 percent said firing the CEO would bring them back.
“Travis wasn’t very well known before this,” said Cartwright, who noted that aside from a few exceptions, such as Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg, most tech CEOs aren’t household names.
“A few months ago people didn’t know who he was. Now, he’s identified as the problem,” Cartwright said.