BUSINESS

Uber’s President Is The Latest In A Spree Of Fleeing Execs

The embattled company may have finally hit its controversy breaking point.

BUSINESS
AFP/Getty Images
Mar 20, 2017 at 10:47 AM ET

Jeff Jones, Uber’s president of just six months, is leaving the company following a series of company-wide scandals and an environment that he said was “inconsistent” with his “beliefs and approach to leadership.”

Jones becomes the latest Uber higher-up to leave the company. Its vice president of product and growth, Ed Baker, resigned in March, just days after senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, was asked to leave after only a month on the job. (Singhal reportedly did not disclose to Uber that he was investigated for sexual harassment at his previous job.) Brian McClendon, vice president of maps, is also leaving, it was announced on Sunday. And Raffi Krikorian, director of engineering at the company’s Advanced Technology Center, tweeted last Wednesday that it was his last day at Uber.

Uber has weathered a storm of controversies in just first few months of 2017. In January, a #DeleteUber campaign was started after the company was perceived to be breaking a taxi strike over President Trump’s travel ban. A month later, a former employee wrote a blog post about sexual discrimination she faced as an engineer at the company, prompting a company-wide independent investigation. A few weeks after that, CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on video arguing with one of his own drivers. He apologized and promised to hire a chief operating officer, saying he needed “leadership help.”

The ride-sharing company was also sued by Google last February for allegedly stealing its self-driving car secrets. Oh, and a few weeks ago, the company was caught using a program that would identify possible investigators and employees of rival ride-sharing companies and show them a fake version of the app that prevented them from getting rides. There’s also that whole kerfuffle with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles over whether or not it had to obtain permits to put its self-driving cars on the road.

Jones told Recode that he was leaving because “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.” That differed somewhat from Kalanick’s version of the story, which was that Jones decided to leave after he announced that the company was looking for a COO.

On Uberpeople.net, a large forum for Uber drivers that tends to skew towards the negative about the company, forum users responded with YouTube videos of Queen performing “Another One Bites the Dust” and noting that Jones “made an ass out of himself” during a February Facebook Q&A session where he was pelted with “questions” (rants) from drivers. He answered 12 and ended it after just a half hour, leaving a trail of angry driver complaints in his wake. Others were downright gleeful at what they saw as another signal that the company they said treated them so badly was self-destructing.

Private Facebook groups also generally reacted to the news with joy, saying that Jones did little for them while trying to appear as though he was their ally. Yet they also recognized that this was another sign that the company was going downhill, and what the ramifications of that could be for them. While they generally dislike the company and its practices, they do still work for it. If Uber goes under, a source of income (albeit shrinking as Uber cuts rates) goes away.

The reaction was similar at a popular subreddit dedicated to Uber drivers. “This is a really big deal,” said one Redditor. “Sad to see him go but Uber is a sinking Titanic right now.”

“They’re bailing like crazy now,” said another.