From sexual harassment allegations, to federal investigations into its software, to a $20 million dollar settlement over driver earnings, ride-hailing platform Uber has been plagued by non-stop PR crises for a long time.
The barrage of controversies took their toll not only on the company’s public image, but also on the patience of Uber’s shareholders.
According to The New York Times, on Tuesday, Uber’s board of directors requested that the company’s CEO and founder Travis Kalanick step down immediately.
Later that day, Kalanick announced his resignation:
“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” the former Uber CEO told The Times.
As Uber struggles to repair its battered reputation, could Kalanick’s departure help the company, which is now missing its CEO, COO, and CFO, among other high-level executives, take a new course and fix its long-standing PR problems?
The answer to this question will depend on a number of factors, including how fast Uber can find a new chief executive, and how well its PR team can communicate the change in the company’s corporate culture to its stakeholders. Both tasks won’t be easy.
Uber’s new PR challenge will require a significant overhaul of its communications strategy, as well as making real changes in its relationship with drivers.
The company made the first step towards that goal late Tuesday, when its Head of Driver Experience Aaron Schildkrout and Head of U.S. Operations Rachel Holt sent an email to Uber drivers announcing a 180-day program of upcoming changes. Some of these changes will include the introduction of tipping, compensation for cancelled trips and waiting time, and bonuses for transporting teenage passengers.
Will this become the turning point in Uber’s struggle to repair its reputation? Only time can tell.