Tech

14 Executives Who Have Left Uber This Year

The world's most highly valued private company has had a challenging 2017.

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Uber's 2017 has been marked by upheaval.

Uber, the ride-hailing giant with a valuation of $70 billion, has been rocked by an unrelenting series of scandals and staff departures since the beginning of the year.

It started on Jan. 19, when the Federal Trade Commission hit Uber with a $20 million fine for misleading drivers about pay. Only a week later, a #DeleteUber campaign went viral after the company turned off surge pricing at New York's JFK airport during a taxi workers' strike against President Trump's travel ban. People were also angered that CEO Travis Kalanick had joined one of Trump's advisory boards. Within a few days, Kalanick had quit Trump's advisory board. But by early February, the New York Times reported that nearly 200,000 people removed Uber's app from their smartphones.

Then, on Feb. 19, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published an explosive blog post in which she alleged a systemic culture of sexual harassment and gender bias at the company. In response to Fowler's blog, Uber launched a harassment and discrimination investigation on Feb. 20 led by former attorney general Eric Holder and Uber board member Ariana Huffington. The investigation has already led to 20 firings.

Amidst all this, Uber has been facing a contentious lawsuit from its self-driving car rival. On Feb. 23, Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo sued Uber for theft of trade secrets and patent infringement. At the center of the suit is Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who worked for almost a decade on Alphabet's self-driving car efforts until he left to launch a self-driving truck startup called Otto. Not long after, Uber acquired Otto, and Levandowski became the head of its self-driving car program. In its suit, Alphabet alleges that Otto itself was a ruse designed to steal its self-driving car technology.

Throughout Uber's series of public crises, critics have questioned whether Kalanick is fit to continue leading the company. And on June 11, sources told BuzzFeed News that Kalanick is considering taking a leave of absence from Uber.

Holder's report on the investigation into the claims of sexual harassment at the company is expected to be released on June 13.

During this series of crises, Uber has lost several of its top executives. Here they are in chronological order:

1. Amit Singhal, senior vice president of engineering, Feb. 27

Catching the next ride of my professional journey with @travisk at @Uber

Singhal worked as Google's head of search before becoming Uber's head of engineering. But while at Google he was the subject of sexual harassment allegations. Recode reported that Singhal didn't disclose the allegations to Uber in the process of Uber hiring him, and that Kalanick asked him to resign.

2. Ed Baker, vice president of product and growth, March 3

YouTube

Baker spent three years at Uber. He wrote in an email to employees that he was leaving to explore tech and the public sector. Recode reported that employees had complained about a sexual encounter he had with another employee at a company event in 2014.

3. Gary Marcus, head of Uber's artificial intelligence lab, March 8

Marcus left Uber's newly created artificial intelligence lab just four months after Uber acquired his AI startup and created the lab. He said in a Facebook post he'd stay on as an adviser after he moved from California to New York.

4. Charlie Miller, senior engineer of autonomous vehicle security, March 8

Miller was an NSA researcher who went viral for hacking a Jeep, then worked for Uber, then left for Chinese rival Didi Chuxing.

5. Raffi Krikorian, senior engineer, March 15

YouTube

Krikorian, a former Twitter executive, was one of Uber's most senior engineers and a former head of its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, which focused on building self-driving cars. His email to employees said he was leaving the company to focus on his family as they moved to California.

6. Jeff Jones, president, March 19

Cindy Ord / Getty Images

Jones departed Uber in March 2017 after just six months of serving as the company's number two executive. He resigned as the company began the search for a chief operating officer, a position that would have overlapped with his own.

8. Rachel Whetstone, head of communications, April 11

Toru Yamanaka / AFP / Getty Images

Whetstone was senior vice president for policy and communications at Uber, coming to the company in 2015 from Google. She didn't give a reason for her departure amid the company's public relations crisis.

9. Sherif Marakby, vice president of global vehicle programs, April 17

Before becoming part of Uber's self-driving car division, Marakby worked at Ford for 25 years. He left Uber to return to Ford to head up its self-driving car division.

10. Jim Callaghan, general counsel for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, May 23

Callaghan left Uber after less than a year without saying why.

11. Anthony Levandowski, head of self-driving cars, May 26

Afp / AFP / Getty Images

Levandowski is the central figure in the trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Alphabet's Waymo. Last month, Uber fired him, saying Levandowski had failed to comply with its internal investigation into Waymo's allegations that he stole its trade secrets and used them at Uber. Levandowski has pleaded the Fifth Amendment for months to avoid any risk of incriminating himself in testimony.

12. Gautam Gupta, head of finance, announced May 31

Uber never officially gave Gupta the title of CFO, but he ran Uber's finances through 2015 and 2016. He's leaving the company in July to join a startup.

13. Eric Alexander, vice president of Uber in Asia, June 7

Hindustan Times / Getty Images

Alexander worked at Uber since June 2014. A Recode story published on June 7 revealed that he had obtained the medical records of a woman who was sexually assaulted during a ride in 2014 in New Delhi, India, and showed them to CEO Travis Kalanick and senior vice president Emil Michael. Alexander didn't give a statement as to why he left the company, but Recode reported he was no longer with the company the day after the site contacted Uber about Alexander's possession of the assault records.

14. Emil Michael, senior vice president of business

Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images

Emil Michael (pictured left) was Uber's senior vice president of business and a close confidant of CEO Travis Kalanick since joining the company four years ago. In 2014, he proposed to reporters that Uber should consider hiring a team of researchers to uncover negative information about its critics, and he's been linked to several of the company's major controversies. He later said the remarks "do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company's views or approach." He didn't give a reason for his departure, nor did the company. He was replaced by David Richter, Uber's current VP of strategic initiatives.

Blake Montgomery is a reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.

Contact Blake Montgomery at blake.montgomery@buzzfeed.com.

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