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Uber fires more than 20 as it begins housecleaning

Eric Newcomer
Bloomberg News

The housecleaning at Uber Technologies Inc. is just getting underway.

Uber fired more than 20 people after a company-wide investigation into harassment claims and hired at least two high-profile senior executives whose job will be to set strategy and rethink branding.

Law firm Perkins Coie LLP led the investigation, reviewing 215 human-resources claims; while it took no action in 100 instances, it’s still probing 57 others. There’s also a separate investigation commissioned by Uber that’s being led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. That group shared detailed findings with a subcommittee of Uber’s board of directors, but a summary isn’t expected to be made public until next week, a person familiar with the matter said.

Uber is awash in investigations after former engineering employee Susan Fowler published a blog post alleging that she was sexually harassed and that the case was mishandled by human resources and senior management.

Uber’s woes don’t end there. It’s also suffered a flurry of departures by senior executives, including heads of finance, growth, engineering and policy and communications. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick — who himself has made a series of public relations blunders, including being caught on video arguing with an Uber driver — has conceded he needs leadership help and hired a search firm to find a chief operating officer.

Aside from those fired, 31 employees are in counseling or training, while seven received written warnings from the company, an Uber spokesman said. The issues deal with harassment, discrimination, retaliation and other human resources matters.

Kalanick has taken other steps to clean up Uber’s image. He asked for the resignation of Amit Singhal, his new head of software engineering, after the company learned of a sexual harassment claim at his former employer, Google. Singhal, who left in late February, denied the allegation.

In the wake of complaints, Uber hired two women as senior executives — former Apple Inc. executive Bozoma Saint John as chief brand officer and Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei as senior vice present for leadership and strategy.