Travis Kalanick walks the streets of Manhattan a month after resigning as Uber CEO and just one day after ride-sharing giant is sued for discriminating against wheelchair users

  • Travis Kalanick, the former chief executive officer of ride-sharing app Uber, was spotted on Wednesday on the streets of Manhattan

  • The billionaire tech titan sported a grizzled look while carrying a backpack

  • The Uber founder has largely stayed out of the public eye while he licks his wounds from a tumultuous period 

  • Kalanick, co-founder of one of the most influential technology companies of its generation, resigned on June 18 under pressure from investors

  • Uber was sued on Tuesday by wheelchair users accusing it of violating New York City laws by failing to make enough of its vehicles accessible to disabled people

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Travis Kalanick, the former chief executive officer of ride-sharing app Uber, was spotted on Wednesday on the streets of Manhattan.

The billionaire tech titan sported a grizzled look while carrying a backpack.

Kalanick was clad in a black t-shirt and jeans during a hot and humid day in the Big Apple.

The Uber founder has largely stayed out of the public eye while he licks his wounds from a tumultuous period during which he lost his mother in a boating accident that also left his father seriously injured.

Kalanick was then forced to resign his position as CEO of Uber after an independent report by former Attorney General Eric Holder recommended sweeping changes at the company.

Kalanick, co-founder of one of the most influential technology companies of its generation, resigned on June 18 under pressure from investors after a string of setbacks.

Kalanick’s departure caps a tumultuous period for the world’s largest ride-services company that has revolutionized the taxi industry and challenged transportation regulations worldwide.

The resignation sent shockwaves through Silicon Valley and leaves Uber’s board of directors with the problem of finding a dynamic leader who also has a steady hand needed to heal Uber after a bruising six months.

‘The person who still best personifies Uber’s potential is the person who left Tuesday night,’ said Bradley Tusk, an Uber investor and adviser.

‘But it’s not like he really could stay without it being brutally bad for the company.’

Kalanick’s pugnacious style largely defined Uber’s approach and helped it become a transportation colossus valued at $68billion, the largest private firm backed by venture capitalists in the world.

But that brashness has also been blamed for a string of scandals this year, from the unearthing of a culture of sexism and bullying at Uber to a Department of Justice federal investigation and a high-stakes lawsuit filed by Alphabet Inc’s autonomous car division, Waymo, that threatens Uber’s self-driving car ambitions.

‘I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,’ Kalanick said in an email to employees that was seen by Reuters.

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Kalanick’s departure as CEO widens an already gaping hole at the top of Uber which has no chief financial officer, head of engineering or general counsel at the moment.

For now, 14 people who reported to Kalanick are running Uber.

It is not clear who will be Uber’s new CEO, but the next leader will likely be tasked with making the company profitable and paving the way to an initial public offering, said executive recruiters.

Kalanick’s former company was sued on Tuesday by disability rights groups and wheelchair users accusing it of violating New York City human rights laws by failing to make enough of its vehicles accessible to disabled people.

The proposed class-action complaint said Uber engaged in ‘pervasive and ongoing discrimination’ because people in wheelchairs can use only a few dozen of its more than 58,000 vehicles in the city.

Given Uber’s growing popularity, this ‘substantially undermines’ the benefits of New York City’s commitment to make half its yellow taxis wheelchair-accessible by 2020, according to the complaint filed in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

‘I want to be treated like everybody else,’ Valerie Joseph, 41, a Queens Village, New York resident born with spina bifida with hydrocephalus and one of the plaintiffs, said in an interview.

‘We are normal people, and we have lives.’

In a statement, Uber said its technology ‘has expanded access to reliable transportation’ for people with disabilities, and that it ‘will continue advocating for a solution that offers affordable, reliable transportation to those who need a wheelchair accessible vehicle.’

The complaint said Uber provides wheelchair-accessible rides through its UberWAV service, but fewer than 100 vehicles in its city fleet offer it.

It seeks to require Uber to provide ‘full and equal access’ for people who need accessible transportation.

‘Riders either face very long wait times or can’t get rides at all,’ Rebecca Serbin, a staff attorney for Disability Rights Advocates, said in an interview.

‘The human rights law reflects the City Council’s commitment to accessibility. Uber is flagrantly violating that law.’

The case follows similar lawsuits against Uber in Chicago and Washington, DC.

The plaintiffs in Tuesday’s lawsuit also include the Brooklyn Center for Independence for the Disabled, Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, the Taxis for All Campaign, and Brooklyn resident Gabriela Amari.

Joseph, who works at the Axis Project gym in Manhattan, said that without Uber, she sometimes has to book rides on accessible buses or trains in advance, and the rides can take hours.

‘When I’m at a job and my boss needs me to get somewhere on demand, I can’t,’ she said.

 

 

~source

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