Updated 9:09 pm, Sunday, March 19, 2017
Uber President Jeff Jones said Sunday that he is quitting the San Francisco ride-hailing company, citing a culture at the hard-charging and often polarizing startup that he said clashed with his professional values.
Jones’ resignation comes barely six months after he took the job and marks the latest blow in what’s been a turbulent few months for the popular ride-services app. Several high-level executives have resigned as CEO Travis Kalanick faces scrutiny over his abrasive management style and the company reels from allegations of widespread sexism.
“The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber and I could no longer continue as president of the ridesharing business,” Jones said in a statement to The Chronicle.
Uber Technologies Inc. spokeswoman Sophie Schmidt confirmed Jones’ departure Sunday, saying that the company wanted to “thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best.” Schmidt declined to discuss the issue further.
Jones came to Uber in August from Target, a hire widely seen as a way for the firm to soften its image as a brash, hyperaggressive company. He formerly worked as Target’s chief marketing officer, and at Uber, he handled operations, marketing and customer support worldwide.
“There are thousands of amazing people at the company and I truly wish everyone well,” Jones said in his statement Sunday.
In announcing Jones’ hiring in August, Kalanick said the two had met at a technology-industry conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. “Within minutes we were debating how Uber could improve its reputation,” Kalanick said.
This month, a video emerged showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver in a discussion about company prices. The clip prompted him to acknowledge that he needed “leadership help” and announce he would be making another hire: a chief operating officer to assist him. How that position would have affected Jones’ job, in which he primarily oversaw the company’s core ride-hailing business, is unclear.
Several high-level personnel changes have taken place at the company recently.
This month also saw the departure of Ed Baker, Uber’s former vice president of product and growth, who left the company after three years, reportedly citing his desire to work in the public sector.
In February, Amit Singhal, Uber’s former senior vice president of engineering, resigned after reports emerged that he failed to disclose a sexual harassment allegation made against him while he was employed at Google. Singhal has denied the harassment charge.
Just days before that, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, penned an explosive post online that chronicled what she described as a deeply embedded culture of sexism and sexual harassment at the company that was allowed to persist because of dysfunctional leadership.
Uber was also sued late last month by Waymo, the self-driving car company created within Google. Waymo says Uber stole sensor technology that autonomous vehicles use to see the world around them. Uber has made a substantial push into self-driving vehicles in recent years.
The San Francisco district attorney’s office said this month that it is investigating the company for the use of a tool called Greyball, which shows different versions of the app to different users, for example hiding available cars from local regulators or law enforcement personnel seeking to enforce bans on its operation. Uber said it would stop using the tool on local officials.
In January, Uber was also criticized for appearing to take advantage of protests in New York against President Trump’s immigration ban by eliminating surge pricing. Critics saw that as a way to break a strike directed at the ban. Uber has said it had no intention of affecting the strike.
The move gave rise to a viral #DeleteUber campaign to encourage users to get rid of the app. Uber’s recent troubles, including the Fowler post, appear to have given that campaign fresh life.
Chronicle columnist Thomas Lee contributed to this report.