Uber to hire a COO to help embattled chief Travis Kalanick

The top ride-hailing company, after a troubled few weeks, confirms it'll hire someone for the No. 2 spot.

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2 min read

Travis Kalanick will hire a COO to help him run the ride-hailing company.

James Martin/CNET

A week after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick admitted he needs to "grow up" and will seek leadership help, he confirmed he will hire a chief operating officer to help run the ride-hailing company.

Kalanick told employees Tuesday he's looking for "a peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey."

That journey in the past few weeks has been pretty bumpy, with news reports ranging from allegations of sexual harassment to a cutthroat company culture to the resignation of a key executive.

Uber has been working to expand beyond its start as an app-driven substitute for taxis. The San Francisco-based company now has a fleet of self-driving cars that it's eager to put into service, and late last year Kalanick said that it was in the beginning stages of becoming a robotics company. Wall Street watchers are wondering when Uber will be ready to launch an IPO.

Last week, Bloomberg posted a video of Kalanick getting into a heated argument with an Uber driver over falling fares and low pay. The CEO told him: "Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!" Kalanick later apologized, saying he has to be more mature.

In February, two Uber backers criticized the ride-hailing company, saying it needs to fix its company culture and do more to combat sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

"Uber's outsize success in terms of growth of market share, revenues and valuation are impressive, but can never excuse a culture plagued by disrespect, exclusionary cliques, lack of diversity, and tolerance for bullying and harassment of every form," investors Mitch and Freada Kapor wrote in an open letter to Uber's board and investors.

The criticism followed a blog post by Susan Fowler, a former engineer, who alleged she and other female employees at the company were sexually harassed. She also detailed a chaotic companywide culture of sexism and unprofessional business practices.

Uber has said it will investigate Fowler's allegations.

Also last month, Kalanick resigned from President Donald Trump's economic advisory council after backlash from workers and the public over the administration's immigration ban.

First published March 7, 11:46 a.m. PT.

Update, March 8 at 10:25 a.m.: Adds background on investor complaints, former engineer's blog post.

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