Travis Kalanick has resigned as the chief executive of Uber.

Kalanick was Uber’s co-founder, and he turned it into a global tech giant. Last week, under pressure, Kalanick announced that he was going on an indefinite leave of absence following the death of his mother. This apparently was an insufficient response to the demands from investors that he resign from the $68 billion startup.

Uber has been hit by a series of PR crises and an exodus of top executives. The startup enlisted former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate allegations that managers didn’t do enough to deal with reports of sexual harassment. Holder’s recommendations included reevaluating Kalanick’s responsibilities at the company as well as “enhancing board oversight” and independence.

The move failed to defuse the crisis over his leadership or put a damper on investors’ demand that Kalanick resign.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement late Tuesday, according to an Uber spokesperson.

With no replacement identified and an existing lack of leadership, Kalanick’s departure deepens the leadership crisis. “There really is no top brass at Uber,” James Cakmak, an analyst with Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co, wrote in an investor note last week.

Although he has resigned as CEO, Kalanick will remain on the Board and retains a majority of Uber’s voting stock.

The five shareholders who demanded Kalanick’s resignation represent 40 percent of the shares and include some of technology’s most prestigious venture capital firms. In addition to Kalanick’s resignation they asked for improved oversight of the company’s board by filling two of three empty board seats with “truly independent directors.” They also demanded that Mr. Kalanick support a board-led search committee for an experienced new chief executive.

“Over the next 180 days we are committed to making driving with Uber better than ever,” the company said. “We know there’s a long road ahead, but we won’t stop until we get there.”

Photo: vincenzo_mancuso /