On Wednesday, it emerged that the e-hail giant’s head of finance Guatam Gupta is resigning this summer, making him the 10th high-level person to leave the company this year—and the third exec to leave this week alone.
Reports of Gupta’s imminent departure for another San Francisco company came with news that Uber lost $708 million in the first quarter of 2017, with revenues hitting $3.4 billion. That’s an improvement, a step toward profitability, the company says: Last quarter losses totaled $991 million.
Despite reducing its losses, Uber is having a rough year. Since January, it has been bedeviled with scandal. It lost some 200,000 customers in New York after it was perceived to be breaking up a strike outside JFK airport around the President’s immigration order. Then came reports from a former employee of pervasive sexual harassment at Uber offices abetted by a poorly run human resources department. Another story about Uber executives liaising with Korean escorts further reinforced the idea that Uber has a culture problem. And then there is the lawsuit with Google over the company’s autonomous technology, which some believe could lead to Uber’s undoing (and which led this week to another executive’s firing). All the while, top employees have peeled off.
Here’s a rundown of the company’s other major departures in 2017, in chronological order:
- Raffi Krikorian, head of Uber’s advanced technologies group, resigned in February after three top engineers in his department left.
- Amit Singhal, senior vice president of engineering, departed in February after his involvement in a sexual harassment complaint at Google came to light.
- Ed Baker, senior vice president of growth and product, took off in March to play in the public sector.
- Charlie Miller, senior researcher for autonomous vehicle security, went to Chinese competitor Didi Chuxing in March.
- Brian McClendon, vice president of mapping, left in March.
- Jeff Jones, president, left in March, citing differences in his approach to business and leadership.
- Gary Marcus, the AI researcher and director of Uber’s artificial intelligence labs, also left in March, but still acts as an advisor to the company.
- Rachel Whetstone, the head of policy and communications, departed in April amid reports of sexual harassment at Uber.
- Josh Mohrer, the head of the company’s New York operations, left this week for an opportunity at Tusk Ventures, the political consultancy founded by another ex-Uber executive, Bradley Tusk.
- Anthony Levandowski, Uber’s head of autonomous vehicles, was fired on Tuesday after he failed to comply with a court order to share documents he had on file from his days at Google. Levandowski was at the heart of a battle between Google and Uber over intellectual property.
The drove of departures comes in the wake of a hiring spree last year. But a change in policy around stock options may only lead more employees to head for the door. Earlier this month, the Information reported, ex-employees were given more time—years, rather than 30 days—to exercise their stock options after leaving the company.
Going forward, Uber faces major challenges, including hiring a chief operating officer and a chief financial officer while big questions arise over Uber’s business model and its ability to deliver returns for investors. A recent report by Buzzfeed highlights the perils of one of the e-hail industry’s primary business tactics: spending oodles of money on scaling. In the span of a single year, the company spent $6 million attempting to make Uber Pool, its ride-sharing service, financially viable. It found that even with mass ridership, when it raised consumer prices in effort to reach profitability, ridership dropped off significantly. Uber’s hunt for profitability makes its search for a chief financial officer even more pressing: While Gupta took over the company’s accounts after Brent Callinicos left in 2015, the company never hired a direct replacement.
With still-eager investors, expect the roller coaster to keep rolling. Next week we expect the results of Eric Holder’s investigation into Uber’s company culture to surface. And with it, perhaps some insight into Uber’s ability to right the ship—and probably more departures.