Uber's Travis Kalanick takes up meditation amid corporate turmoil

Ride-hailing startup's CEO has taken to private moments of self contemplation, board member Arianna Huffington says.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has taken to private moments of self reflection in the office, board member Arianna Huffington revealed Wednesday.

James Martin/CNET

Travis Kalanick has learned how to breathe.

Amid turmoil and scandal at Uber, the CEO of the ride-hailing startup has taken to moments of meditation in the office, according to board member Arianna Huffington. But because Uber lacks rooms designated for such self contemplation, Kalanick has opted to pop into an available lactation room to find peace, Huffington said while speaking at the iCONIC conference in New York City on Wednesday.

"Literally, it was an amazing moment last week when we were in the office and he said, 'I really need to go meditate in order to be in a place to make good decisions right now,'" Huffington said at the conference, according to a CNBC account of her talk.

"And literally [he] went into a lactation room that happened to be open, because they don't have meditation rooms yet," said Huffington, who joined Uber's board in 2016. "Travis returned and you could see the change in the way he was and the way he could process making decisions."

The revelation came a day after Uber said it had fired more than 20 employees as part of an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations. A second internal inquiry is being led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

The two investigations began after a former employee wrote a blog post in February detailing allegations of sexual harassment, sexism and unprofessional business practices at Uber.

Since then, the ride-hailing service has been embroiled in a host of scandals and has lost nearly a dozen high-level executives, including President Jeff Jones, President of Engineering Amit Singhal, head of finance Gautam Gupta and the head of its self-driving car program, Anthony Levandowski.

Kalanick faced his own public headache in February when a dashboard video captured Kalanick arguing with his driver over fares.He later apologized for the encounter, which came just two weeks after two Uber investors wrote an open letter to the company's board of directors criticizing the company for having "a culture plagued by disrespect, exclusionary cliques, lack of diversity, and tolerance for bullying and harassment of every form."

Huffington, who wrote a book called "Thrive" about the importance of sleep, said the change is part of a big transformation the company is going through.

"Travis started recognizing how differently he made decisions when he had gotten enough sleep. And then he started meditating," Huffington said, adding that she believes office meditation rooms will one day be as common as conference rooms.

Huffington dropped a nugget of sorts by adding we can expect a "restructuring of the management team" at Uber, although she didn't say when.

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

But in the meantime, exhale.

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