As Uber looks for a new leader, the presence of former CEO Travis Kalanick on its board could prove to be one of its biggest challenges.
The ride-hail giant’s board began searching for a new chief executive after Kalanick resigned last week. Candidates for the top post are likely to ask Uber for a fuller version of former attorney general Eric Holder’s internal investigation into the company’s culture and full transparency around its litany of legal battles, including a federal investigation into a software tool that was used to evade authorities in places where the company’s service was restricted, the handling of a rape victim in India’s medical records, and a trade-secrets lawsuit with a major self-driving car rival. And the board will also have to explain how much latitude a new CEO would get, given that Kalanick will remain on the board, and is part of the search committee.
“If Travis remains involved in the company on a regular basis and maintains a controlling share of the company and an active board seat, it’s unlikely they’re going to be able to bring in the CEO who can make the kind of changes one would want to see here,” said Mercedes Chatfield-Taylor, a managing partner at the executive search firm Caldwell Partners.