Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is searching for help. Kalanick, who was embroiled in controversy last week after a video of him arguing with an Uber driver surfaced on the internet, said he was looking "for a peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey."
The move will assuage investors in Uber after intense media scrutiny has unearthed scandals within the company and shone the spotlight on a hard-driving culture that includes "toe steppin" and "hustlin" as key values. Based on a video released last week by an Uber driver, Kalanick himself seems to be an embodiment of that culture. In the video, he argues with a driver, who complained of Uber's rate cuts, and tells him to "take responsibility" for his life. Kalanick admitted that he needed "leadership help" after the video was released. (See also: Sexism Charges Bring Uber's Toxic Culture to the Fore.)
It is not uncommon for CEOs of fast-growing tech startups to seek leadership support from established industry veterans. Former Novell CEO Eric Schmidt was brought in to provide "adult supervision" to Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google after the company's IPO. Similarly, Facebook, Inc. (FB) hired Sheryl Sandberg away from Google to run the social network's daily operations and help out Mark Zuckerberg with strategy. (See also: Doing These Things Can Get You Banned on Uber.)
Quite likely, Kalanick is looking for an executive with a similar profile. A report from tech publication Recode mentions Thomas Staggs, former chief operating officer at The Walt Disney Company (DIS), and CVS Health Corporation (CVS) President Helena Foulkes as "dream" candidates for the job. The report also mentioned that the Uber board would prefer a female to fill the post.
Uber has had a rocky year, so far. The company was the subject of a mass deletion campaign after it ferried passengers to New York's John F. Kennedy airport during a strike by taxi drivers in New York in support of protests against President Donald Trump's recent immigration order. Subsequently, Kalanick was forced to resign from his position on President Trump's Economic Advisory Council. Allegations of sexual harassment by a former female employee further highlighted negative aspects of the company's male-dominated culture, and a recent New York Times report detailed how the company evaded regulators with custom software. (See also: Uber Faces a Fresh Set of Problems This Week.)