Jeff Jones has resigned as the president of Uber. It’s a rather sudden departure that adds even more pressure for CEO Travis Kalanick to right the ship before his company sinks. Jones was the CMO of Target before signing on to help remake Uber’s image and oversee its primary business. Getting Jones onboard was a big boon for Kalanick, who wrote a fawning note upon his hiring in August.
“It’s super clear to me that Jeff understands scale, operational excellence, innovation and storytelling—and that he’s up for learning and testing his limits. Most of all I love Jeff’s optimism about, and enthusiasm for, our mission,” Kalanick wrote in part.
Jones spent the beginning of his tenure meeting with and getting feedback from drivers to develop better business practices. His second attempt at driver outreach didn’t go so well: Drivers felt their compensation questions weren’t being adequately addressed, resulting in a torrent of angry messages during a question and answer session on Facebook in February.
In a memo addressing Jones’s sudden departure, Kalanick mentioned none of the scandal plaguing the company, instead keeping it cut and dry with personnel updates.
Jones’s exit is reportedly directly related to the sexism and sexual harassment allegations against Uber, which first came to light in a blog post by former engineer Susan Fowler. The company failed to discipline employees who had sexually harassed female coworkers and, according to Fowler, even lied about the amount of recorded instances. An investigation was launched, headed up by former US attorney general Eric Holder, who has been working for Uber for some time.
The fact that a paid employee would be auditing the company’s practices discouraged early investors like Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor, who penned a piece on Medium slamming Uber’s response to sexism and sexual misconduct. However, the investigation has produced some results: The company fired its head of engineering, and its head of product resigned after inappropriate behavior was uncovered.
Kalanick has been in search of a COO since March 7. His Sunday memo seems to indicate that filling the COO position is still his main priority. As of press time, neither Uber nor Jones have responded to a request for comment.