Uber tar­get­ing ti­tans of in­dus­try in CEO search

National Post (National Edition) - - FINANCIAL POST - ERIC NEW­COMER Bloomberg

SAN FRAN­CISCO • Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc. has set its sights on the busi­ness world’s most sea­soned chief ex­ec­u­tives to fill the lead­er­ship vac­uum left by the de­par­ture of co-founder Travis Kalan­ick. Can­di­dates for Uber CEO, in­clud­ing Jef­frey Im­melt, must be ca­pa­ble of restor­ing con­fi­dence in the ride-hail­ing com­pany af­ter months of con­tro­versy.

Im­melt, the out­go­ing CEO of Gen­eral Elec­tric Co., is on a short­list of fewer than six can­di­dates to run Uber and pre­pare the busi­ness for an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said. The com­pany has been mov­ing to nar­row the list and name a suc­ces­sor to Kalan­ick, who was ousted un­der pres­sure from some of the com­pany’s ma­jor in­vestors last month. Meg Whit­man, CEO of Hewlett Packard En­ter­prise Co., had also been un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, but she pub­licly with­drew her name Thurs­day night.

Uber’s board met Thurs­day night to dis­cuss the search and other is­sues, said one of the peo­ple, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied. The San Fran­cisco-based com­pany hopes to name a suc­ces­sor to Kalan­ick by early Septem­ber. GE and Uber de­clined to com­ment.

Im­melt, 61, is sched­uled to step down next week from the CEO po­si­tion at GE that he’s held since 2001. John Flan­nery, a 30-year GE vet­eran, will take over, with Im­melt re­main­ing chair­man un­til the end of the year.

Im­melt em­braced Sil­i­con Val­ley in re­cent years, with the launch of a dig­i­tal di­vi­sion in 2015. He has tried to bring startup strate­gies to the man­u­fac­tur­ing be­he­moth.But GE’s shares fell by about a third dur­ing his ten­ure. While Im­melt was praised for re­shap­ing the man­u­fac­turer, he faced crit­i­cism for cut­ting share­holder div­i­dends in 2009 and over­pay­ing for some ac­qui­si­tions.

Uber’s new chief will in­herit a long list of chal­lenges. Uber’s fiercely cap­i­tal­is­tic, Ayn Ran­dian sen­si­bil­i­ties cre­ated a brand that’s hard to love and gave op­por­tu­ni­ties to more ap­proach­able al­ter­na­tives, such as ri­val Lyft Inc. Uber went through an in­ter­nal cri­sis this year af­ter al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion by em­ploy­ees. The com­pany fired more than 20 work­ers as a re­sult. The U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment has in­tro­duced a sep­a­rate probe into Uber’s use of soft­ware called Grey­ball to help driv­ers evade law en­force­ment of­fi­cials.

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