Jeff Immelt bows out of consideration for Uber CEO job

Former GE chief was considered a front-runner for the job after Travis Kalanick was forced out in June.

Steven Musil
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Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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2 min read
Jeff Immelt speaks at an Intel conference in 2016.

Jeff Immelt has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Uber CEO job.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Former GE chief Jeff Immelt has withdrawn his name from consideration to be Uber's next chief executive.

Uber's board was expected to vote Sunday on whom should fill the position, which has been vacant for two months. Immelt, who was considered a front-runner for the ride-hailing company's top job, announced his decision in a tweet Sunday morning.

The San Francisco-based startup has been without a chief executive since co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to resign in June after a slew of scandals, including sexual harassment allegations that led to the firing of more than 20 employees. The company is also defending itself against a trade-secret theft lawsuit from Waymo, the self-driving car business run by Alphabet -- Google's parent company.

Problems for Uber started snowballing back in February when former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote a blog post titled "Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber." She wrote about sexual harassment, "a game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management," and gender bias. 

Meg Whitman, currently head of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and formerly of eBay, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the position, but Whitman put that speculation to rest in late July when she proclaimed "Uber's CEO will not be Meg Whitman."

Complicating the hunt for a new CEO are rumors that Kalanick is plotting a return to Uber as CEO -- something the company flatly denies.

Benchmark Capital, one of the startup's early investors, has sued Kalanick, alleging the ride-hailing company's co-founder hasn't acted in the interest of Uber's stockholders, employees, drivers and passengers. Kalanick has called the lawsuit a "public and personal attack" without merit.

But if Benchmark wins its suit against Kalanick, he'd be removed from Uber's board and any chance of his reinstatement as CEO would likely disappear.

Uber didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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