Tag: brain drain

More top execs flee Uber

Uber is in a bit of trouble as its top executives flee the organisation.

Company president Jeff Jones, a marketing expert hired to help soften its often abrasive image, has decided that there is nothing he can do for the outfit and has cleared out his desk.

Jones told the press he could not continue as president of a business with which he was incompatible.

“I joined Uber because of its mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long term. It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business,” he added.

Jones’ role was put into question after Uber earlier this month launched a search for a chief operating officer to help run the company alongside Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.

Jones had been performing some of those COO responsibilities. He joined Uber from Target Corp (TGT.N), where he was chief marketing officer and is credited with modernising the retailer’s brand.

Uber’s vice president of maps and business platform, Brian McClendon said he wants to leave the company at the end of the month to explore politics.

But they are the latest in a string of high-level executives to leave the company.

Engineering executive Amit Singhal was asked to resign due to a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his previous job at Alphabet Google. Earlier this month, Ed Baker, Uber’s vice president of product and growth, and Charlie Miller, Uber’s famed security researcher, departed.

Uber, while it has long had a reputation as an aggressive and unapologetic startup, has been battered like a Scottish Mars bar lately with multiple controversies over the last several weeks.

Some are even daring to question Kalanick’s leadership capabilities, although it is unlikely they do it to his face.

A former Uber employee last month published a blog post describing a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished. The blog post prompted an internal investigation that is being led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

Bloomberg released a video that showed Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology.

Uber is facing a lawsuit from Alphabet self-driving car division that accuses it of stealing designs for autonomous car technology known as Lidar. Uber has said the claims are false.

Jones expected to be Kalanick’s No. 2. Jones and was tasked with overseeing the bulk of Uber’s global operations, including leading the ride-hailing program, running local Uber services in every city, marketing, and customer service, and working with drivers.


British boffins warn science spending cuts mean "game over"

Some of Britain’s most influential boffins have warned the government that 20 percent cuts to science funding would mean “game over”.

The Royal Society has laid its cards on the table in its submission to the Treasury over the potential funding cuts to the sector, the New Scientist reports.

In the submission it outlined three scenarios: Constant cash with a reduction in real terms, which “could be accommodated”, a 10 percent “slash and burn” option which would have “serious consequences” and the 20 percent cuts option – translating as “game over”. The Royal Society’s president Martin Rees said this third option would cause irreversible destruction and be “very tragic”.

Speaking today, Rees warned that, as other countries invested in research, the UK risked becoming a less attractive option to mobile talent and young people.

Just to ram the point home at today’s talk, held at the Royal Institution and part of an event organised by the Campaign for Science and Engineering and the Science Media Centre, Rees shared the stage with five prominent university vice chancellors who also warned of the serious ramifications of the proposed cuts.

These included respected figures such as Simon Gaskell of Queen Mary, University of London, who said the move threatened to harm the UK’s pool of natural talent. Meanwhile, Andy Haines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine pointed out that health research would suffer, especially as other countries such as the US and China were actually investing more in research and development.

Academics also told the New Scientist that they were worried that the government didn’t seem to be able to grasp the long-term nature of scientific research – and that the idea of cutting funding was out of step with other major economies.

The comments followed a warning yesterday from the head honcho on the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that the UK faced a “brain drain” if proposed funding cuts were to go ahead. In a letter to the science minister David Willetts, Lord Krebs said scientists were likely to head overseas for more attractive positions and pay.

All we can do now is wait until the Government’s 2010 Spending Review – due next month – to find out how deep the cuts will be. But all government departments have been told to prepare for cuts of at least 25 percent in their budgets.

Sadly, this belt tightening threatens one of the things Britain currently does well. We can punch above our weight when it comes to science and research and this translates as positive news for the economy. 

Start slashing the funding and we risk no longer being able to attract or keep the best brains in the business.

Why ditch investment in something we’re actually good at.