Rachel Whetstone, head of public policy and communications at Uber, has resigned, marking the latest departure by a senior executive brought in from the outside to instil stronger corporate discipline at the troubled ride-hailing app.
News of her exit on Monday came less than a month after president Jeff Jones also quit, blaming a culture that he said was “inconsistent” with his own principles.
Ms Whetstone’s departure robs Uber of its longest-serving senior female executive. It comes less than two months after Travis Kalanick, chief executive, promised an overhaul of the company’s culture in the wake of damning allegations by a former female programmer about a culture that was hostile to women, including a failure to deal with sexual harassment allegations.
Ms Whetstone was herself instrumental in forging the company’s internal response to the scandal, which included a high-level external investigation into the harassment claims and a commitment to boost diversity efforts.
It was not clear whether her departure was linked to the fallout from that scandal, and she could not immediately be reached for comment. In a brief statement released by the company, she did not explain her departure, instead saying only that she was “incredibly proud” of the policy and PR she had helped to build and that she still “loved” Uber’s ride-hailing service.
Ms Whetstone is succeeded by Jill Hazelbaker, who worked under Ms Whetstone at Uber and, before that, Google. Uber boosted its senior female ranks at the start of this year with the arrival of human resource head Liane Hornsey, another former Google executive.
Ms Whetstone had been central this year in devising Uber’s responses to a series of crises that have raised the most serious doubts about Mr Kalanick’s leadership in the eight-year history of the company. They included a damaging video in which Mr Kalanick was caught making disparaging comments to an Uber driver — something that forced him to issue a public admission of his management failings and commit to take coaching. The company has also been on the receiving end of a high-profile legal attack from Waymo, a sister company of Google, over its driverless car technology.
A former head of policy and communications at Google, Ms Whetstone moved to Uber in 2015 at a time when the company was trying to assemble a more experienced management team and develop stronger processes and culture after a period of breakneck growth.
The company had already hired David Plouffe, the manager of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, to handle the battles with regulators that followed its aggressive drive into new markets, often flouting taxi laws along the way. He later left to become an adviser and now works for the private foundation set up by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Other recent departures from Uber include Brian McClendon, a senior engineer in charge of its maps and business platform.
A British PR executive, Ms Whetstone worked for conservative politician Michael Howard before moving into the corporate world. She moved to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View before switching to Uber two years ago.
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