Axios / Lazaro Gamio
General Electric chairman Jeff Immelt has pulled himself out of the running to be CEO of Uber, which has been without a leader since Travis Kalanick was forced to resign in late June.
I have decided not to pursue a leadership position at Uber. I have immense respect for the company & founders - Travis, Garrett and Ryan. — Jeff Immelt (@JeffImmelt) August 27, 2017
Context: The timing of Immelt's tweet is curious, given that he met in person with members of Uber's board yesterday, in what was viewed as a final interview before an expected vote today. Either Immelt didn't like what he heard from the directors, or he felt he wouldn't get the nod and decided to preemptively save face.
Multiple sources say that Kalanick favored Immelt, which didn't necessarily work in his favor with Benchmark — the venture capital firm that is Uber's largest outside shareholder and which recently sued Kalanick for fraud (in short: Benchmark is worried Immelt would be a short-termer who would then turn the company back over to Kalanick).
What next? Uber is said to have another finalist whose name has been kept under wraps, although the smart money might be on it returning to Meg Whitman — the current HP and former eBay CEO who had been in talks for the job before her name was leaked last month. Whitman also withdrew from the process via tweet, but Benchmark is trying hard to change her mind (and, per sources, has lined up enough board support for Whitman is it's able to persuade her). Uber had originally told employees that it wanted a new CEO in the chair by Labor Day, so time is running short if it even wants to approximate that goal.