The long and dramatic process for naming a new Uber CEO may be coming closer to an end.
First reported by Kara Swisher, our sources are also telling us that former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt is still being seriously considered and the board vote is expected to happen soon. The talks were first reported several weeks ago.
Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was asked to resign in June, following the completion of an investigation into the company’s culture. A lawsuit with Waymo and accusations of a sexist company culture are partly what led to his departure.
But Kalanick still remains on the board and has the power to appoint two more board seats, which has become the subject of a lawsuit with early investor, Benchmark Capital. Benchmark wants Kalanick off the board because it believes that he didn’t disclose material information about the legal and ethical problems at the company. In response, Kalanick ally and investor Shervin Pishevar suggested that Benchmark’s Matt Cohler should be taken off the board. Kalanick has weighed in, saying that Benchmark took advantage of him when they persuaded him to step down from Uber, while he was mourning his mother’s recent death.
The stakes are especially high because Uber’s $68.5 billion valuation is just paper money until there is an exit, likely via IPO or acquisition. Kalanick has reportedly been telling people that he wants to return to the CEO.
Uber investors have mixed feelings about Immelt. One investor who asked to be anonymous felt that Immelt had the right disposition to bring the company back in the right direction. Another expressed concern about Immelt’s lack of industry expertise and seemed to feel that he’s not someone the company would have wanted, had it not been in this difficult situation.
But while Immelt is said to be the frontrunner, this is not a done deal. With all the board drama, it may be hard to finalize things.
Swisher reported that the board vote is expected to happen within two weeks. We’re hearing it might be sooner.