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Uber’s SVP of business Emil Michael has left the company

Michael, who was negotiating the terms of his departure, sent an email to staff today.

Emil Michael

Emil Michael, Uber’s SVP of Business, just announced to the company’s staff that he is leaving Uber, a source told Recode. Uber confirmed the departure.

Michael sent an email to staff today saying that David Richter, the vice president of strategic initiatives, will be taking his place. Before coming to Uber in 2014, Richter was the chief strategy officer at Say Media for a little over three years.

Sources describe Richter as pragmatic and say he was often seen as the only adult in the room. There were few people at the company who didn’t like the executive, these people said. The former media exec, who worked as an interim CFO at Say Media, worked well with the policy and communications team and understood its role.

Michael’s departure comes after the company’s board met for seven hours on Sunday to discuss an independent investigation into Uber’s culture and overall management. Among the questions those interviewed were asked were inquiries into Michael’s trip to an escort bar in South Korea with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and other employees.

Michael was pressured to step down by the board ahead of Sunday’s meeting, several sources told Recode.

On Sunday, Recode reported that the top executive at the car-hailing company — and CEO Travis Kalanick’s closest confidant — was in the “crosshairs” of the directors, due to an investigation that is about to be released on Tuesday that shows a hostile workplace fraught with a retaliatory atmosphere and few systems in place to counter pervasive sexism and sexual harassment as well as other corporate mismanagement.

The company and Michael began negotiating the terms of his exit on Sunday after the meeting.

Uber has seen a parade of executives either step down from their roles or be terminated in the last few months, but Michael’s is the most high profile. While he came under the spotlight in 2014 for suggesting digging up dirt on journalists who wrote unfavorable stories about Uber, Michael was known internally as the deal maker.

It was Michael who courted investors and brought in the funding and played a crucial role in nailing down major acquisitions like that of self-driving trucking startup Otto. He was also described by several sources as Kalanick’s enabler, for better or worse.

His departure doesn’t necessarily take the pressure off Kalanick, who is deciding whether or not to take a temporary leave of absence. It does, however, clear the way for the COO that Uber eventually hires to be Kalanick’s second-in-command if Kalanick stays in his role.

That’s because that person would no longer be competing with Michael for Kalanick’s ear. Since joining the company in 2013, Michael has effectively become Kalanick’s second-in-command.

Here’s the email:

Team –

Yesterday was my last day with Uber. Starting today, David Richter, our current VP of Strategic Initiatives, will be the new SVP of Business. David is an extremely talented leader and I have high confidence in his ability to help drive the company forward.

I signed on with the company almost four years ago and it has truly been the experience of a lifetime helping Uber become the fastest growing company of all-time -- spanning 75 countries with over 14,000 employees.

I am proud of our business team’s part in contributing to the company's overall success. We have fueled our growth by raising more money than any other tech company in history; we completed one of the most valuable mergers in American/Chinese tech history with the Didi deal; and we have secured ground-breaking partnerships with automobile companies all over the world to support our autonomous vehicle efforts.

But I am most proud of the quality of the team we have built. Beginning with my first day at Uber, I have been committed to building a diverse Business Team that would be widely recognized as the best in the technology world: one that is welcoming to people of all genders, sexual orientations, national origins and educational backgrounds. I am proud that our group has made so much progress toward these goals and is a leader in the company in many of these categories. As an Egyptian immigrant who was taken under the wing of a great business leader like Bill Campbell, I have an abiding belief that we all should pay it forward by ensuring that our workplace represents all types of people.

Uber has a long way to go to achieve all that it can and I am looking forward to seeing what you accomplish in the years ahead.



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