Uber in 2017: One Bumpy Ride
Uber Technologies Inc., the popular ride-hailing company, entered 2017 having doubled its bookings in 2016 and achieving a valuation of nearly $70 billion, making it the largest venture capital-backed company in the world. Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick embodied the company, with a hard-charging attitude embedded in the company's workplace culture that allowed it to successfully take on the entrenched taxi industry. Uber looked to enjoy another year of global growth in 2017, until lawsuits and a cascading series of scandals surrounding that same workplace culture led a group of powerful investors to seek Kalanick's resignation to protect their investment. This case presents an overview of the growth of Uber, the impact of Kalanick, and the role that Uber's board of directors had in shaping the company's growth. It centers on the factors leading to Uber board members and investors to call for Kalanick's resignation, focusing on how board oversight can help shape company culture and how entrepreneurial boards deal with founder CEOs. It then deals with the events that happened in the aftermath of Kalanick's resignation, including the appointment of Dara Khosrowshahi as CEO and the changes, the lawsuit brought against Kalanick by venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, and the governance changes proposed at the end of September 2017.