Uber is in desperate need of a game-changing CEO after Travis Kalanick’s ouster last week—and one intriguing candidate is currently working at the company’s legal adversary.
Ruth Porat is the highly regarded chief financial officer of Alphabet, the parent company of Google and Waymo, who was previously called the most powerful woman on Wall Street in her role as Morgan Stanley CFO.
Fortune contributor Arjun Narayan notes that Porat could be the perfect person to address Uber’s toxic culture of sexism, impose fiscal discipline to stem its enormous losses, and navigate the complicated path to an IPO. Before Kalanick’s ouster, Dealbreaker noted that “[h]aving his own Ruth Porat might also save Travis Kalanick from Travis Kalanick.
There are more than a few caveats: Porat might have no interest in the job, and Alphabet’s ongoing lawsuit against Uber for the alleged theft of autonomous driving technology would complicate matters.
But hiring Porat could also present an opportunity for grand bargain to resolve the legal standoff; Alphabet, as one of the largest investors in Uber, has an incentive to find a solution out of court, especially now that Kalanick and many of his combative lieutenants have been sidelined.
Aside from the tactical considerations, Silicon Valley is wrestling with its toxic bro culture, and that makes it problematic to bring in a highly regarded female executive to clean up after a male founder’s mess.
As Quartz’s Heather Landy wrote yesterday regarding the idea of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg running Uber:
[W]omen in CEO roles start at a disadvantage when they are brought in as nurses to rush to the aid of a sickly culture, or as babysitters meant to buttress a male founder who acts like an overgrown child … As she works to get her new company back on track, the new female CEO will be all the while marching right up to the edge of the proverbial glass cliff, until she is thrown over by an impatient board or by frustrated investors.