Embattled Uber loses another senior executive

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks to students during an interaction at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Mumbai, India, January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Ride-sharing app Uber has another negative headline following the announcement that another senior executive has left the company. Rachel Whetstone, head of public relations and communications, has quit after two years in the post, chief executive Travis Kalanick revealed in an email to staff yesterday. She will be replaced by her deputy, Jill Hazelbaker. “No reason has been given for her resignation, though it follows months of turbulence at Uber,” says the BBC.

Uber has been fighting legal battles around the world and controversies in its home market, including an apparent breach of a taxi strike during a protest at airports over Donald Trump travel ban in January.  “A campaign to ‘#deleteuber’ is said to have cost the company hundreds of thousands of accounts, though it is hard to be sure of the genuine impact,” adds the BBC.

Kalanick himself was criticised for joining an economic panel set up by Trump, while his company has also been embroiled in sexual harassment claims by a former engineer. Whetstone’s departure follows that of company president Jeff Jones, who quit last month after only six months in the job, and head of engineering Amit Singhal, who left after accusations of sexual harassment came to light.

However, both Uber and Whetstone say her departure is completely amicable. Whetstone, who worked at Google until 2015, said: “I joined Uber because I love the product and that love is as strong today as it was when I booked my very first ride six years ago.” Kalanick attached a photo of the two of them on a recent hiking trip to his email and wrote: “I am looking forward to having her as an advisor for years to come.”

Uber forced to shut down in Denmark after law change

Uber is being forced to pull out of Denmark next month as the global battle over its status rolls on. A change in the law in the Scandinavian country means taxis must have both a fare meter installed in the cab and sensors on seats to prevent overcharging. As Uber handles all charging via its app, it can no longer operate in the country and it has announced it will shut down on 18 April, says the BBC.

It said: “For us to operate in Denmark again the proposed regulations need to change. “We will continue to work with the government in the hope that they will update their proposed regulations and enable Danes to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies like Uber.” Uber has operated in Denmark for three years and says it has 2,000 drivers serving around 300,000 customers.

It added it will “allocate resources” to help drivers during the shutdown process and will also maintain its software division in Aarhus, in northern Denmark, where it employs 40 people. Uber styles itself as a technology company, claiming it merely operates an app that puts customers in touch with independent drivers, who are classified as self-employed contractors. However, a series of legal battles in various countries has seen rivals and regulators try to force the company to fall into line with rules on traditional taxi firms.

Last year, a UK tribunal ruled in favour of two Uber drivers who claimed they could not be considered self-employed, which would entitle them to extensive workers’ rights. Uber has also faced legal actions in Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid and is awaiting a decision from the European Court of Justice that could determine how it is regulated, The Guardian says.

In addition, a private action has been launched in the UK over its policy of not paying VAT. Campaigner Jo Maugham says Uber should be charging 20 per cent on its fares and paying that as value added tax to HMRC. Uber says the tax is payable by its drivers, most of whom earn below the VAT threshold of £83,000, meaning very little is collected, reports the Daily Mail.



Source By theweek…

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