Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence from the company to “work on myself” and to deal with a recent family tragedy, according to an email he sent to the company.
When he returns to the ride-hailing giant, Kalanick will be stripped of some duties, and Uber’s board will appoint an independent chair to “limit his influence,” Bloomberg reported.
It’s not known when Kalanick will return to the company. Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team,” Kalanick wrote in the email, obtained first by Recode.
The CEO had been weighing whether to step away from the company, which has been grappling with a series of crises. The idea of his leaving gained extra momentum after his mother died in a boating accident over Memorial Day weekend.
Kalanick apparently made his decision to take a leave at almost the last minute. Even a few hours before a major company meeting Tuesday, Kalanick had reportedly not made up his mind on what he wanted to do.
His announcement of his leave of absence ultimately came just as the company was to present to employees the findings of an investigation by former Attorney General Eric Holder into Uber’s workplace culture. The report on the investigation’s findings did not recommend that Kalanick step away from the company, but Uber’s board discussed it with the CEO during an emergency board meeting on Sunday. Holder did recommend that Kalanick’s responsibilities be reviewed and reallocated.
“The Board should evaluate the extent to which some of the responsibilities that Mr. Kalanick has historically possessed should be shared or given outright to other members of senior management,” the report said.
It also recommended that Uber continue its search for a chief operating officer who could act as a “full partner” to the CEO but focus on the day-to-day operations and company culture.
“For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team,” Kalanick wrote in his email. “But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.”
Here’s his full note to Uber’s employees:
For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber. Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.
The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders. There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve. For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.
During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly.
It’s hard to put a timeline on this — it may be shorter or longer than we might expect. Tragically losing a loved one has been difficult for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes. The incredible outpouring of heartfelt notes and condolences from all of you have kept me strong but almost universally they have ended with ‘How can I help?’. My answer is simple. Do your life’s work in service to our mission. That gives me time with family. Put people first, that is my mum’s legacy. And make Uber 2.0 real so that the world can see the inspired work all of you do, and the inspiring people that make Uber great.
See you soon,