Jeff Immelt has dropped out of Uber’s contentious CEO race

Out of the running.
Out of the running.
Image: Reuters/Daniel Becerril
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Jeff Immelt has withdrawn himself from contention to be the next CEO of Uber.

The former GE chief tweeted Sunday (Aug. 27) that he had decided not to pursue a leadership role at Uber. He did not elaborate on his reasoning. Immelt had been in northern California this weekend to pitch Uber’s board on his vision for the ride-hailing company.

Immelt had been widely rumored to be a top candidate for the Uber CEO post. Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, was also a leading contender but said in late July that the Uber search process had become a “distraction” and that she would not be the next CEO.

The New York Times is now reporting that Whitman, despite those denials, has remerged as the preferred candidate. Times reporter Mike Isaac tweeted that Immelt pulled out to save face because he didn’t have the necessary support from Uber’s board.

There is also a third person being considered whose identity is unknown.

Since Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick was pressured to resign from the CEO post in late June, the search for a new chief executive has devolved into a messy battle among the company’s board members. Immelt was rumored to be more likely to facilitate Kalanick’s return to a prominent role at Uber, and favored by his supporters. Benchmark, one of Uber’s largest investors, has meanwhile pushed for Whitman, who is reportedly warier of Kalanick having a substantial role at the company.

Uber is without a CEO, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer, among other positions. The startup, last valued at $68 billion, is currently being run by an “executive leadership team” that includes some of Uber’s most senior employees, such as chief product officer Jeff Holden and regional general manager for the US and Canada Rachel Holt.

The executive turmoil has come amid a year of scandal for Uber. The company has confronted multiple allegations of sexual harassment, is fighting a lawsuit against self-driving carmaker Waymo, and is facing a federal probe over its use of a software tool to evade law enforcement.