Uber board member, David Bonderman, has resigned from his position with the ride-hailing company following reports that he made a derogatory statement about women. The comment came during a board meeting intended to confront Uber's "toxic" reputation following a six month-long flurry of public relations disasters.
On Tuesday (13 June), Uber published a 13-page document which summarised the findings of former US attorney general Eric Holder's investigation into allegations of harassment and systemic sexism within Uber's corporate culture.
During a board meeting held to discuss the findings, board member and Greek entrepreneur Ariana Huffington raised the topic of female board members following the appointment of Wan Ling Martello to Uber's top table.
"There is a lot of data that shows that when there is one woman on the board, it's much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board," Huffington stated.
David Bonderman, co-founder of private equity firm TPG Capital which has investment stakes in Uber, then responded: "Actually, what it shows is that it's much more likely to be more talking."
Understandably, the glibness and timing of Bonderman's comment drew instant ire within the company, prompting a number of internal emails addressed to managers and Uber's head of human resources. Huffington's direct response during the meeting was simply: "Ohh, come on, David."
After audio of the exchange was leaked by Yahoo, Bonderman resigned from his position on the board and issued a statement to Uber employees via email. Below is the statement obtained by The New York Times:
"The comment came across in a way that was the opposite of what I intended, but I understand the destructive effect it had, and I take full responsibility for that. [...] I do not want my comments to create distraction as Uber works to build a culture of which we can be proud. I need to hold myself to the same standards that we're asking Uber to adopt. Therefore, I have decided to resign from Uber's board of directors, effective tomorrow morning."
Uber has been locked in a carousel of damaging setbacks for the past six months, with Bonderman's sexist jab merely adding to the $70bn-valued startup's troubles. Holder's investigation - as well as the death of his mother in a boating accident - prompted Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick to take a leave of absence, with the co-founder stating to the press: "I want to make Uber 2.0 and Travis 2.0."
Uber's catastrophic year has been dogged by accusations of intellectual property theft by Google, price gouging during terror attacks, traffic infringement committed by autonomous vehicles, footage of Kalanick verbally attacking an Uber driver, and the aforementioned allegations of sexism in the workplace.