As months roll by without any clear answers, the speculation as to who might be Uber’s next CEO continues to churn out headlines in the business pages. The list waxes and wanes week to week, but scratch one name off for good. Meg Whitman says she is not interested in becoming Uber’s next leader. She’s very happy at HP, thank you very much. Whitman was considered the frontrunner in the speculation game, which has been running since former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned last month. HP is doing well, and Whitman is being given a lot of the credit. No one was really asking her if she was being considered, but so many people were talking about it, the rumor mill was grinding loudly. Whitman finally had enough, tweeted out the following:
Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman
“Normally I do not comment on rumors, but the speculation about my future and Uber has become a distraction… So let me make this as clear as I can. I am fully committed to HPE and plan to remain the company’s CEO. We have a lot of work still to do at HPE, and I am not going anywhere. Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman.”
Seems fairly cut and dried. But even that has not stopped the Whitman to Uber chatter. The former eBay CEO and California gubernatorial race runner up has cemented her reputation by shepherding HP through a tough transition, bringing the company into the digital age and setting it up to, once again, become a trendsetting tech industry leader. Those rumors were further stoked after Whitman spoke with Uber’s board about the open position. Clearly, Whitman wants to stifle these rumors and focus on her own work. So, who else might be in the running?
Uber – Young, Brash and Willful
The rumors not attached to Whitman seem to favor current GE CEO Jeff Immelt. Immelt, like Whitman, has done well leading a company in transition. Now he says he’s ready to move on. He plans to step down soon and to leave the GE board by year’s end. But is Immelt the right fit for Uber? The company has thrived as a young, brash and willful teenager of a business. Fighting with local ordinances in nearly every new city, battling disgruntled drivers and challenging the mighty taxi unions. But those days might be over. Uber is well-established now, and Kalanick’s style – and his repeated PR gaffes – were leaving Uber investors unhappy.
The consensus is Uber needs to grow up, to be the international, well-established company it is, rather than the industry maverick it was. But they will still need to innovate. Disciplined creativity is a tough combination to bring to the table. Whitman has it … but she’s not interested in sharing.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.