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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick doesn’t have to worry about his job safety, according to board member Arianna Huffington.
Even as scandals pile up at the beleaguered ride-hailing company, Huffington insists that Kalanick is on solid footing from the board’s perspective.
In a rare conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Huffington said that outside speculation of removing Kalanick from the CEO job is purely hypothetical and there haven’t been any discussions at the company about it.
Removing Kalanick from the CEO seat “hasn’t been addressed because it hasn’t come up and we don’t expect it to come up,” Huffington said flatly.
As multiple reporters asked about the fate of Kalanick as CEO of the world’s most valuable tech startup, Huffington defended Kalanick repeatedly and said he’s shown a willingness to be accountable for the problems inside his company and take initiative to turnaround his company.
“Almost week by week, I see him changing,” Huffington said.
Currently, the ride-hailing company is in the process of recruiting a second-in-command who can work alongside Kalanick, the CEO who has turned Uber into one of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies but who has also become a magnet for criticism because of the win-at-all-costs culture he has fostered.
That culture has been in the spotlight in recent weeks amid allegations of sexual harassment at the company, a lawsuit accusing Uber of using stolen technology and a video showing Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver.
Huffington said Kalanick is sincere that he wants the incoming COO to be a true partner with him.
“Many of you have been asking what qualities we’re looking for in a COO,” Huffington said in her introduction to the call. “In short, Uber needs a leader who has significant operational experience and who understands service-related businesses at a local and global scale; who can thrive in a hyper-growth company; and someone with the strength and smarts to work alongside a founder as a true partner.”
Kalanick missed the call, she said, because he was too busy interviewing COO candidates to join.