The turmoil surrounding ride-hailing company Uber is increasing with the departure of president Jeff Jones, a marketing expert who was hired to help soften the company’s often abrasive image.
Jones had previously been the chief marketing officer at Target. In a statement to Reuters, he said, “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.”
Earlier this month, Jones’ role was put into question after Uber launched a search for a chief operating officer to help run the company alongside chief executive Travis Kalanick. Jones had been performing some of those COO responsibilities, according to a report from Reuters.
“We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best,” Uber wrote in a statement.
Jones isn’t the only departure from Uber. Brian McClendon, a vice president responsible for the company’s mapping program, said he is leaving to explore politics.
“I’ll be staying on as an adviser,” McClendon said in a statement to Reuters. “This fall’s election and the current fiscal crisis in Kansas is driving me to more fully participate in our democracy.”
Uber has been mired in controversy this year. In January, the company was accused of undermining a taxi strike against Donald Trump’s immigration ban, and Kalanick stepped down from Trump’s business advisory council after the #DeleteUber movement gained momentum. In February, a former employee wrote a blog post about her experiences of sexual harassment while working for Uber, and the company is also facing a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous car company Waymo for allegedly stealing trade secrets. Additionally, Bloomberg released a video that showed Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology. And earlier this month, Uber confirmed that it had used a secret technology program dubbed “Greyball,” which effectively changes the app view for specific riders, to evade authorities in cities where the service has been banned. Uber has since prohibited the use of Greyball to target local regulators.
Clearly, Uber is going through a very difficult period, and we’ll be watching for further information as it becomes available.