Jun 12, 2017

Uber's act of corporate masochism

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Uber's board of directors met for over six hours yesterday, is what appeared to be an act of corporate masochism. In the end, they agreed to accept every recommendation made by Eric Holder, following his investigation into workplace culture issues (borne of Susan Fowler's allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination). What exactly that means, however, is still unclear. Full details will be shared during tomorrow's all-hands, but expect it to leak earlier.

  • Bottom line: Short-term, almost nothing that happens here will impact Uber's business. Most "normals" don't care about the palace intrigue, they just want a ride. Long-term, however, what Uber does or doesn't do this week could impact hiring and, in turn, whether Uber remains the go-to for most future rides.
  • Most talk yesterday centered around the future of Emil Michael, Uber's de facto #2 and guy who seemed bulletproof just a few weeks ago. Now he could be on his way out. If Michael does go, expect that to clear the way for the long-awaited hire of an official #2 to CEO Travis Kalanick. [Update: Michael is out.]
  • Speaking of Emil: Arguably his greatest accomplishment at Uber revolved around mega-fundraising, and it's unclear who would assume those duties. The company's finance chief announced his departure recently, with Kia scooping on Friday that he's headed to real estate startup Opendoor as COO.
  • Big Bossman: There also have been several reports that Kalanick himself could take a leave of absence. I'm hearing that it's unlikely, particularly given how barren the remaining C-suite is right now (the only idea sillier than Bill Gurley being named interim CEO is the idea of Arianna Huffington doing it). A big wildcard is that Kalanick has spent most (if not all) of the past two weeks in the LA area, caring for his injured father ― in the aftermath of the boating accident that tragically killed his mother.
  • Sound of silence: Hearing nothing yet on the fate of CTO Thuan Pham, who was actually accused of negligence in Fowler's original post.
  • Newbie: Uber will add Wan Ling Martello, a Nestle executive and Alibaba director, to its board, according to Bloomberg.
  • Fiduciaries: There has been a lot of Twitter posturing and schadenfreude over this mess, but the job of Uber's investor board members this past weekend was to preserve value ― not appease the critics or the apologists. For many VC and private equity firms, Uber is their single most lucrative investment (on paper) and LPs are counting on eventual liquidity.

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Gov. Tim Walz to mobilize Minnesota's full National Guard

Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced on Saturday he is activating the full National Guard to respond to street violence in Minneapolis that broke out during protests of a police encounter that left a black man, George Floyd, dead.

Why it matters: This is the first time the state has activated the full National Guard since World War II. " The Minnesota National Guard told Axios in an email that up to 10,000 soldiers and airmen would be deployed after all activations and processing are complete.

Updated 28 mins ago - Science

Live updates: SpaceX attempts to launch NASA astronauts Saturday

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

At 3:22 p.m. ET today, SpaceX is expected to launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station for the first time.

Why it matters: The liftoff — should it go off without a hitch — will be the first time a private company has launched people to orbit. It will also bring crewed launches back to the U.S. for the first time in nine years, since the end of the space shuttle program.

Follow along below for live updates throughout the day...

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 5,974,938— Total deaths: 365,976 — Total recoveries — 2,529,761Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,750,203 — Total deaths: 102,906 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Economy: What U.S. workplaces may look like next — George Floyd's killing and economic calamity are both part of America's unfinished business — The future of mobility in the post-pandemic world.
  4. Public health: CDC pares down guidance on how to reopen houses of worship —  The coronavirus could give bioterrorists ideas, security group warns.
  5. States: New York City will reopen June 8, Cuomo says.
  6. Supreme Court: Chief Justice Roberts sides with liberals in denying challenge to California's pandemic worship rules.