Uber Technologies Inc.’s communication chief Rachel Whetstone is leaving the ride-hailing giant amid a public-relation crunch embattling the company. (See also: Can Uber Solve Its Leadership Crisis?)
Whetstone made the announcement in a statement released on Tuesday without giving any reason for her departure. Whetstone joined Uber from Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google where she also served as the head of communications and public policy. Whetstone’s deputy, Jill Hazelbaker, who also worked under Whetstone at Google, will assume the duties of Whetstone, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Uber has been dealing with a raft of controversies in recent months. CEO Travis Kalanick has had to issue public apologies in recent weeks after a video of Kalanick berating an Uber driver went viral. There has also been a sexual harassment scandal around the company after an ex-Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, revealed that she was sexually harassed during her time at Uber. Alphabet has also sued the ride-hailing firm for allegedly stealing a patented self-driving car technology. (See also: Google's Self-Driving Car Division Sues Uber)
Whetstone’s departure is the latest in a string of high-profile departures. President of Ride-Hailing Jeff Jones, who joined from Target Corp. (TGT) last September to help improve Uber’s reputation, left in March, saying the ride-hailing company’s beliefs and approach to leadership were inconsistent with his own ideologies. Ed Baker, vice president of product and growth, Raffi Krikorian, who was in charge of Uber’s self-driving car activities and Brian McClendon, vice president of maps and business platform had also departed Uber.
Whetstone has been instrumental in developing responses to Uber’s recent crisis, which included an advanced external investigation into the sexual harassment claims brought forward by Fowler. (See also: Uber's Race to Catch Asian Rivals May Hurt Profits)
Whetstone joined Uber, which is valued at around $70 billion, at a time when the company was putting together an experienced management team in response to the rapid expansion the ride-hailing company was undergoing, especially to deal with regulators in cases where the company’s operations violated local policies such as taxi laws.