As of last week, former GE CEO Jeff Immelt was the first choice for the position of CEO at Uber. However, on yesterday, Immelt wrote in a tweet that he has decided to back out of the race.
“I have decided not to pursue a leadership position at Uber. I have immense respect for the company & founders – Travis, Garrett and Ryan,” Immelt tweeted.
Apparently, Immelt made this decision over the weekend post his presentation in person to the board. Sources said that the presentation did not go well on either side. Some of the Uber board members characterized Immelt’s departure as face-saving, given both sides clearly had a difference of opinions. Immelt says it was his decision.
HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman recently tweeted something similar. While Immelt didn’t state a reason, it’s possible that he didn’t like that Uber’s board has been embroiled in lawsuits and other drama.
A source familiar with the situation said that Immelt had become increasingly disturbed by the dysfunction and the quarrels within the board, as well as its inexperience in conducting such an important search. In addition, given his longtime corporate experience, he also felt the directors did not have a “company first mindset.”
Perhaps, Immelt, who had been the front-runner for the job, was irritated by more confusion around the search this late in the game. The source also talked about the recent re-entry of Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman as another potential CEO.
The CEO search has reached a new level of intensity in recent days as Uber’s board has been meeting on and off since Friday to decide on a replacement for Travis Kalanick.
The board vote for the CEO is expected to take place shortly.
Immelt had been the choice of ousted CEO Travis Kalanick, whom he thanked in his tweet along with Uber co-founder Garrett Camp and early company executive Ryan Graves. Immelt had spent a lot of time with Kalanick and was supportive of keeping him involved in the company’s operations.
Another reason why Immelt was put off were the recent legal attacks by major Uber investor Benchmark on Kalanick and he felt the famous Silicon Valley venture firm had become a “destructive” influence on the process.