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Immelt Stepping Down from GE, Kalanick to Take Leave of Uber?

Zacks

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Capturing headlines this morning are shakeups within the top brass at both one of the top companies of the 20th century, General Electric GE, and a storied 21st century firm, Uber (not yet publicly traded). GE CEO Jeff Immelt will be stepping down after more than 15 years at the helm of the company; Uber’s Travis Kalanick is reportedly being pressured to take a leave of absence from the ride-sharing industry leader.

Immelt will retain his position as Chairman of GE through the remainder of 2017, to be succeeded by incoming CEO John Flannery. Reports are that this transition does not represent a radical departure for the direction of the giant conglomerate, but will continue to massage synergies from its many acquisitions made over recent years. During Immelt’s tenure overall, GE stock is down 29% — in today’s pre-market, shares are up roughly 3.6% at this hour.

When Immelt took over for “legendary” GE CEO Jack Welch in 2001 — shortly before the attacks of 9/11, by the way — the company was already coming down from its all-time peak around the turn of the millennium. GE took another big leg down when the Great Recession hit toward the end of 2008, and the stock has yet to recover to that $40-ish price range prior to the economic collapse. Shares in the pre-market are teetering just under $29 per share now.

Travis Kalanick’s possible leave of absence as CEO of Uber, the company he co-founded, may be complicated by the stepping down of Uber CBO Emil Michael as early as today. Both this latest development and the whisper campaign regarding Uber’s board pressuring Kalanick to take a break from helming the company are likely results of a report expected this week based on an investigation from ex-Attorney General Eric Holder on the potentially problematic culture within the Uber workforce.

Reports of misogyny and general irresponsible behavior were persistent enough to put this investigation into play; now that the results are about to see the light of day, the board looks to attempt to get ahead of any potential problems by having Kalanick — the person most often charged with creating this alleged problematic culture — step aside for awhile, perhaps to be succeeded by co-founder Garrett Camp.

Neither Kalanick nor Camp are professional executive types, ultimately, so we may not have seen the last of the shakeups at Uber, near-term. After all, investors remain very interested in working a successful IPO for the global ride-sharing service. But the company may need to lock in the perception of adults in control of the business before Uber can move forward on this. Expect more headlines on the possible directions of this company as Holder’s report is released.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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