Uber’s No. 2 ex­ec­u­tive re­signs post

Jones’ de­par­ture fol­lows series of scan­dals, CEO’s vow to hire new sec­ond-in-com­mand

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Marisa Ken­dall mk­endall@ba­yare­anews­group.com

SAN FRAN­CISCO — In an­other sign of the tur­moil sweep­ing Uber, the com­pany’s pres­i­dent of ride-shar­ing has quit af­ter less than a year on the job, fol­low­ing a string of scan­dals at the startup and CEO Travis Kalan­ick’s prom­ise to hire a new sec­ond-in-com­mand.

Kalan­ick on Sun­day con­firmed the de­par­ture of Jeff Jones in an email to em­ploy-

“The beliefs and ap­proach to lead­er­ship that have guided my ca­reer are in­con­sis­tent with what I saw and ex­pe­ri­enced at Uber.” — Jeff Jones, ex-pres­i­dent of rideshar­ing

ees, which was ob­tained by this news­pa­per.

“Af­ter we an­nounced our in­ten­tion to hire a COO, Jeff came to the tough de­ci­sion that he doesn’t see his future at Uber,” Kalan­ick wrote.

Jones, who joined Uber as pres­i­dent of ride-shar­ing in Septem­ber af­ter serv­ing as chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at Tar­get, crit­i­cized the com­pany in a state­ment to tech blog Re­code.

“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,” Jones wrote.

Jones did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment from this news­pa­per.

His sud­den exit comes less than two weeks af­ter Kalan­ick, scram­bling to re­spond as ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, sex­ism and in­ap­pro­pri­ate man­age­rial be­hav­ior shook the San Fran­cisco-based com­pany, an­nounced he would hire a chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer to serve as his peer and part­ner.

Uber is los­ing one of its key ex­ec­u­tives fol­low­ing what has been a dis­as­trous month for the startup worth nearly $70 bil­lion. In Fe­bru­ary, a for­mer Uber en­gi­neer ac­cused the com­pany of pro­tect­ing a man­ager who so­licited her for sex, which was fol­lowed by re­ports of man­agers sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing and threat­en­ing em­ploy­ees.

Then a video of Kalan­ick went vi­ral, show­ing the CEO los­ing his tem­per while ar­gu­ing with his Uber driver about fares. Not long af­ter, Kalan­ick apol­o­gized and promised to get “lead­er­ship help,” later say­ing that help would come in the form of a new chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer.

Uber ear­lier this month also an­nounced it would dis­man­tle a se­cre­tive pro­gram that al­lowed it to evade un­der­cover reg­u­la­tors try­ing to con­duct stings on the com­pany. And it is fac­ing a po­ten­tially dev­as­tat­ing law­suit by com­peti­tors at Google’s Waymo seek­ing to stymie its self-driv­ing car ef­forts.

In the wake of this tu­mult, Jones is just the lat­est ex­ec­u­tive to re­sign. Vice Pres­i­dent of En­gi­neer­ing Amit Sing­hal was pushed out last month af­ter the com­pany learned he was ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment while pre­vi­ously work­ing at Google. Vice Pres­i­dent of Prod­uct Ed Baker re­signed shortly af­ter.

While at Uber, Jones over­saw the com­pany’s op­er­a­tions, mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer sup­port glob­ally. He re­placed Ryan Graves, a long­time Uber ex­ec­u­tive and the com­pany’s early CEO.

Kalan­ick touted the hire in Au­gust as a “big change” and said the move was a re­sult of his re­al­iza­tion that the com­pany needed to put a big­ger em­pha­sis on mar­ket­ing.

Jones ap­peared to have big plans for Uber as re­cently as last month, when he posted a note on Face­book promis­ing to give driv­ers bet­ter sup­port, clearer com­mu­ni­ca­tion and an im­proved driver app.

“From all I heard and ex­pe­ri­enced, one thing is clear: we have a lot of work to do!” he wrote. “This up­date is just the be­gin­ning.”

Last month, Jones also held a 30-minute, live Q&A ses­sion on Face­book, which drew more than 600 ques­tions, but few in-depth an­swers from Jones.

Kalan­ick had pos­i­tive things to say about Jones in his email to staff.

“In 6 months, he made an im­por­tant im­pact on the com­mu­nity,” Kalan­ick wrote, “from his fo­cus on be­ing driver ob­sessed to de­liv­er­ing our first brand rep­u­ta­tion study which will help set our course in the com­ing months and years.”

But the In­de­pen­dent Driv­ers Guild, a quasi-union that rep­re­sents Uber driv­ers in New York, was not so com­pli­men­tary.

“It’s frus­trat­ing that the sole ex­ec­u­tive charged with be­ing driver-ob­sessed has left the com­pany,” the group wrote in an emailed state­ment, “with­out mak­ing a sin­gle im­prove­ment to help driv­ers strug­gling to make a liv­ing.”

ERIC RIS­BERG/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Dur­ing his brief ten­ure at Uber, Jeff Jones over­saw the San Fran­cisco-based com­pany’s op­er­a­tions, mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer sup­port glob­ally. Jones re­placed Ryan Graves, a long­time Uber ex­ec­u­tive and the firm’s early CEO.

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