SAN FRANCISCO — Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber, is seeking a No. 2 executive to lend him a hand after a bumpy start to his year.
Mr. Kalanick issued a one-sentence statement on Tuesday saying, “We’re actively looking for a Chief Operating Officer: a peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey.”
An Uber spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement.
Mr. Kalanick’s search for a chief operating officer follows several blows to Uber this year that have raised questions about the ride-hailing company’s workplace culture and business tactics. Some of the concerns have extended to Mr. Kalanick’s character, and Tuesday’s announcement shows how he intends to restructure the executive suite to get more help, while continuing to lead the company.
Mr. Kalanick said last week that he needed to change as a leader “and grow up,” adding that “I need leadership help, and I intend to get it.” He spoke as part of an apology for berating an Uber driver in February, an incident that was captured on video and made public.
Beyond the video, Uber has been reeling from allegations from former employees about a discriminatory and brutal culture; a lawsuit from Waymo, a self-driving vehicle rival, that claims an Uber executive stole intellectual property from it; and a social media-driven campaign to delete the Uber app. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Uber has for years used a secret tool called Greyball to identify and circumvent authorities who were trying to clamp down on the ride-hailing service.
Mr. Kalanick, a founder of Uber, has long set its tone. He has taken a pugilistic style toward pushing Uber’s services into cities and towns around the world, often flouting laws and regulations, and has spoken publicly about how his company helped him attract women.
Filling an executive position at this level will not be easy.
“Generally speaking, talent is very tight, and the pool of available executives within the technology industry is small,” said Richard Marshall, a partner with the executive search firm Korn Ferry. “And for fast-growing, founder-led companies, it’s hard to find someone with the skills needed who is a cultural fit.”
Many Silicon Valley companies have placed experienced executives alongside young founders to help them steer fast-growing start-ups. Eric Schmidt, now chairman of Alphabet, was once known as the adult supervision for Google’s young founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. At Facebook, the social network, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, brought in Sheryl Sandberg, a respected tech executive who is now the company’s chief operating officer.
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