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Marissa Mayer reportedly stands by Uber's Travis Kalanick

Commentary: Speaking at Stanford University on Tuesday, the former Yahoo CEO says Kalanick likely had no idea what was really going on at Uber.

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On Kalanick's side?

Matt Winkelmeyer

After being forced to resign last week, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has begun receiving support.

Actor Ashton Kutcher, an Uber investor, defended the co-founder of the world's biggest ride-hailing service, saying that Kalanick likely made mistakes but the world is too "fast to judge people." Virgin founder Richard Branson called Kalanick an "extraordinary individual who's human like the rest of us."

And some Uber employees reportedly circulated a petition last week demanding his reinstatement and describing him as "flawed, as we all are."

Now, Kalanick, who co-founded Uber in 2009, is reportedly receiving support from what some might see as a more unlikely source: former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

The San Francisco Chronicle says that Mayer spoke on Tuesday at the Stanford Directors' College and suggested that Kalanick had been a victim of the company's growth.

"Scale is incredibly tricky. I count Travis as one of my friends. I think he's a phenomenal leader. Uber is ridiculously interesting," she reportedly said. 

But what about the ridiculous amount of stink that has surrounded Uber, with accusations of widespread sexual harassment at the company finally leading to his ouster?

"I just don't think he knew. When your company scales that quickly, it's hard," the Chronicle quoted Mayer as saying. 

The Stanford Directors' College didn't immediately respond to a request for confirmation of her words.

Many might find it a touch difficult to swallow, however, that a CEO who prided himself on his tech bro' credentials -- and held corporate events at strip clubs -- would be entirely unaware that a certain sort of male-centricity reigned at his company.

Moreover, he was renowned as an extremely hands-on CEO, one who currently stands accused of even going through a customer's illegally obtained medical records. Could it be that he didn't know everything about his company?

How, indeed, can you be a phenomenal leader and not know what's happening at your company?

Some have suggested that Mayer, who exited from Yahoo after the sale of the company to Verizon, might herself be one of the possible candidates to replace Kalanick. (Note: Mayer's husband, venture capitalist Zachary Bogue of Data Collective, describes himself as an angel investor in Uber on his firm's website.)

For anyone who takes the job, there will still be some scaling to endure, as well as a culture to adjust. There will also be one or two lawsuits to overcome