Uber president of ride-sharing Joe Jones, the company's second in command who was poached from a position at Target just six months ago, is leaving the company in a huff. His departure, complete with scathing comment, was first reported by Recode before it was disclosed internally. News of that loss was shortly followed by a New York Times report that Brian McClendon, vice president of maps and business platform, was out at the end of the month in a considerably more amicable departure.
Uber announced Jones's hire last August in a glowing blog post. The former Chief Marketing Officer at Target would be responsible for Uber’s operations, marketing, and customer support globally. "Most of all I love Jeff’s optimism about, and enthusiasm for, our mission," CEO Travis Kalanick wrote at the time.
Now, here's the diss Jones was serving in a statement to Recode:
I joined Uber because of its Mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long-term.
It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.
There are thousands of amazing people at the company, and I truly wish everyone well.
Kalanick announced last month that he needed "leadership help," a response to a variety of Uber scandals including but not limited to video of his argument with an Uber driver. He would hire a Chief Operating officer, Kalanick explained, a "peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey." That peer of Kalanick's would potentially outrank the now outgoing president Jones, and it's possible that didn't sit well. Still, it's bad news for the company, the Times speculates: Jones was "viewed by many as the so-called adult in the room — an executive with experience as a leader at a public company that had undergone a period of intense crisis."
Per Recode, this was Kalanick's statement to staff:
I wanted to let you know that Jeff Jones has decided to resign from Uber.
Jeff joined Uber in October 2016 from being CMO at retailer Target. In 6 months, he made an important impact on the company—from his focus on being driver obsessed to delivering our first brand reputation study, which will help set our course in the coming months and year.
After we announced our intention to hire a COO, Jeff came to the tough decision that he doesn’t see his future at Uber. It is unfortunate that this was announced through the press but I thought it was important to send all of you an email before providing comment publicly.
Rachel, Pierre and Mac will continue to lead the Global Ops teams, reporting to me until we have signed a COO. Troy Stevenson, who leads CommOps, and Shalin Amin who leads brand design will report to Rachel Holt. Ab Gupta will report to Andrew MacDonald.
In related news, Brian McClendon's decision leaves Uber in another tough spot. An established digital cartographer, McClendon was an alum of Google where he was was "instrumental" in Google Earth, and "his departure from Uber is concerning considering how strategically important mapping and geolocation services are to the ride-hailing company."
McClendon, by contrast to Jones, leaves the company on good terms. “This fall’s election and the current fiscal crisis in Kansas is driving me to more fully participate in our democracy — and I want to do that in the place I call home,” he said in a statement to the Times. “I believe in Uber’s mission and the many talented people working there to make it a reality and that’s why I have agreed to stay on as an adviser.”
It's a big day for me. I've got my Kansas driver's license and am registered to vote. There's no place like home! https://t.co/SmhPmoeIcj— Brian McClendon (@bmcclendon) March 20, 2017
Last month, Recode also broke the story of a major staff shuffle: Senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal was forced to resign when the tech publication questioned Uber about its decision to hire Singhal after his previous employer, Google, found sexual harassment allegations against him from an employee were "credible" in an internal investigations. That was a big no-no for Uber after a widely-circulated account from a former company engineer portrayed a culture in which "high performing" male employees weren't punished for sexual harassment.
Other major recent Uber departures include Raffi Krikorian, "a well-regarded director in Uber’s self-driving division," and Gary Marcus, whose artificial intelligence company Uber acquired recently.
The BBC had quite the "big, if true" story in relation to the changes afoot, writing that "two separate, well-placed sources at the company told the BBC that Mr Kalanick could possibly step down as chief executive soon after the new COO is in place — a move that might reassure investors ahead of a long-anticipated potential initial public offering."
A separate source strongly contradicted that suggestion. In an update, the BBC wrote that "shortly after this story was published, another source, who also did not want to be named, said there was "zero chance" of Mr Kalanick stepping down when the new COO is announced."