Business First Look

Uber president steps down as company turmoil intensifies (+video)

Only six months after taking the job, Jeff Jones has stepped down as president of the embattled ride-hailing company, Uber confirmed Sunday.

A sign marks a pick-up point for the Uber car service at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Wednesday.
Seth Wenig/AP/File
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Uber’s new president resigned over the weekend, marking another high-profile exit in a series of departures and problems that have drawn the company’s corporate culture and overall mission into question.

Jeff Jones, a marketing expert who came to Uber from Target Corp., left the company just six months into his tenure. Upon leaving this past weekend, he cited discord between his values and the ride-sharing company's as the catalyst for his departure.

"I joined Uber because of its mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long term," Mr. Jones said in a statement to Reuters.

"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," he added.

In its statement, Uber did not acknowledge the concerns Jones raised, but wished him luck in future endeavors.

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

Jones’s departure is just one of several resignations that have marked a tumultuous year at the company. Others included engineering executive Amit Singhal, who left five weeks after his hire was made public, after he allegedly failed to disclose that he left a job at Google because of a sexual harassment claim; Ed Baker, the company’s vice president of product and growth; and Charlie Miller, a top security researcher.

The company’s vice president of maps and business platform, Brian McClendon, has announced he will leave at the end of the month as well, in order to explore politics.

"I'll be staying on as an adviser" Mr. McClendon said in a statement to Reuters. "This fall's election and the current fiscal crisis in Kansas is driving me to more fully participate in our democracy."

Amid the staffing shakeup, the company is grappling with additional issues regarding the conduct of its top executives and the use of passenger data, as well as the "Greyball" program it used to sidestep regulators.

Last month, video footage showed the company’s chief executive Travis Kalanick berating a driver who had complained about pay cuts. He later issued a public apology.  

Others have complained for years that the company has failed to respond to sexual harassment accusations appropriately. Those allegations mounted last month when a former employee wrote a scathing blog post about workplace sexism at the company.

Uber has begun to address those claims and hired former attorney general Eric Holder to lead an investigative panel on sexism within the workplace.

Accusations that sexism is embedded in the startup company's culture have long dogged Uber, as The Christian Science Monitor reported in 2015:

Last year, Mr. Kalanick drew fire for calling his company ‘Boob-er’ in a GQ profile, referencing what a boon Uber’s success has been for his sex life. In October, the company apologized for a ‘hot chick’ promotion from one of its offices in France that paired passengers with attractive female drivers, complete with the tagline, ‘Who said women don’t know how to drive?’

Incidents like those, combined with continued safety problems even after an announced revamp of its policies, have helped paint Uber as a company that either doesn’t get it or doesn’t really care.

This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.