By Ryan Velez
Uber’s ousted CEO Travis Kalanick blindsided the company itself when he appointed former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns as a board director in a move that is practically spouting controversy, reports Black Enterprise. The announcement was made on Friday, and joining Burns will be John Thain, the former CEO of CIT Group, Merrill Lynch, and the New York Stock Exchange.
“I am happy to announce that Ursula Burns and John Thain have agreed to join Uber’s Board of Directors,” said a spokesperson for Kalanick in a statement sent to Tech Crunch. “Ursula and John are two highly accomplished corporate leaders with extensive board experience. Their backgrounds include successfully leading large public companies as chief executives and chairs, navigating dynamic, technology-powered and regulated industries, and guiding tens of thousands of employees around the world.”
The statement added that he is confident that the pair will provide “valuable insights, counsel and independent perspective as Uber moves into the next phase of growth and prepares for a public offering.”
Uber responded that the appointments “came as a complete surprise to Uber and its Board” in a statement. “That is precisely why we are working to put in place world-class governance to ensure that we are building a company every employee and shareholder can be proud of.”
What triggered the sudden move? Kalanick said he made the decision “in light of a recent Board proposal to dramatically restructure the Board and significantly alter the company’s voting rights. It is therefore essential that the full Board be in place for proper deliberation to occur, especially with such experienced board members as Ursula and John.”
At the moment, the controversy may be the last thing that the beleaguered company needs. Uber is currently embroiled in several bad press scandals, including allegations of s*xism, federal investigations. A recent ban in London is also a black eye for Uber, which recently coerced Kalanick into resigning. Dara Khosrowshahi, formerly the CEO of Expedia, was hired in his place while marketing guru Bozoma Saint John was brought on to help Uber rebrand. As part of the deal, Kalanick was allowed to stay on the board of directors with control over 2 other seats. Uber directors are currently scheduled to vote on board reforms that would drastically limit his power.