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Can UBER Get Back On Track?

Uber president is the latest top executive to depart company after months of scandal

Uber's president Jeff Jones quit on March 19 after just six months on the job, adding to a list of problems that have hit the company hard in recent weeks. (Reuters)

Two prominent executives, including the president who joined Uber just six months ago, are leaving the company, another sign of tumult as the ride-hailing service continues to grapple with months of scandal.

Jeff Jones was courted from Target last September to serve as president of Uber’s ride-sharing business. His departure comes just weeks after chief executive Travis Kalanick said he would seek “leadership help” and announced plans to hire a chief operating officer.

Jones told tech news site Recode: “It is now clear, however, that 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.”

[Uber used secret tool, extraordinary measures to sidestep government officials]

Recode first reported the departures, and they were later confirmed by a spokeswoman.

“We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best,” the company said in a statement.

Also departing this month is Brian McClendon, the vice president of maps and business platform. He plans to return to his native Kansas and explore a career in politics, he said in a statement provided by the company. “This fall’s election and the current fiscal crisis in Kansas is driving me to more fully participate in our democracy — and I want to do that in the place I call home,” he said.

They join a larger exodus of executives since Uber’s troubles began in January. Others to depart the company in recent months, according to media reports, include Ed Baker, the vice president for product and growth, Raffi Krikorian, a senior engineering director, and Gary Marcus, whose company Uber acquired in December.

Uber’s senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, left the company in February after he did not disclose a sexual harassment accusation was made against him at Google, his previous employer.

The departures come as Uber tries to contain the fallout from a series of controversies, including several involving Kalanick.

[Uber’s CEO says ‘I need leadership help.’ What should it look like?]

Uber was the subject of a consumer boycott after the company continued to operate during a taxicab protest at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport following President Trump’s first travel ban. Kalanick stepped down as an economic adviser to Trump as a result.

Then, a former employee published allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company, including accusations that the human resources department did not properly handle complaints from female employees. The company hired former attorney general Eric Holder to lead a review of those accusations and the company’s discrimination policies.

Last month, Google’s self-driving arm, Waymo, filed a lawsuit against Uber, alleging that its technology was modeled off stolen intellectual property. Waymo has accused three former employees of taking trade secrets to Uber and asked a judge to bar Uber from using the technology until the matter is settled.

Kalanick was also caught on video in an argument with one of the company’s drivers, who confronted the chief executive about changes to the service he thought harmed drivers. After the video surfaced, Kalanick publicly apologized and said he would seek “leadership help.”

Finally, a bombshell report in the New York Times outlines Uber’s use of “Greyball” software to evade regulators in cities where it was not allowed to operate. The company said it would review how it uses the software — which allows the company to display the app differently to individual users — and prohibited “its use to target action by local regulators going forward,” the company said.

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