Ex-Uber CEO Appoints Ursula Burns as Board Director in Move That ‘Completely Surprised’

Ursula Burns

Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns has been appointed as a board director at Uber in a controversial move made by the ride-sharing company’s ousted CEO Travis Kalanick.

Kalanick stated Friday that Burns, along with John Thain, the former CEO of CIT Group, Merrill Lynch, and the New York Stock Exchange, will join Uber’s board of directors in a surprise announcement that even shocked Uber.

“I am happy to announce that Ursula Burns and John Thain have agreed to join Uber’s Board of Directors,” said a spokesperson for Kalanick in a statement sent to Tech Crunch. “Ursula and John are two highly accomplished corporate leaders with extensive board experience. Their backgrounds include successfully leading large public companies as chief executives and chairs, navigating dynamic, technology-powered and regulated industries, and guiding tens of thousands of employees around the world.”

The statement adds that the Uber co-founder is confident that the corporate titans will provide “valuable insights, counsel and independent perspective as Uber moves into the next phase of growth and prepares for a public offering.”

In response, Uber admitted that the appointments “came as a complete surprise to Uber and its Board” in a statement. “That is precisely why we are working to put in place world-class governance to ensure that we are building a company every employee and shareholder can be proud of.”

Kalanick said he made the stunning decision in “in light of a recent Board proposal to dramatically restructure the Board and significantly alter the company’s voting rights. It is therefore essential that the full Board be in place for proper deliberation to occur, especially with such experienced board members as Ursula and John.”

The announcement comes as Uber struggles to revive itself from a slew of scandals and bad press, which include allegations of sexism, federal investigations, and multiple lawsuits. Most recently, the tech giant was banned in London. In midst of these challenges, Kalanick was coerced into resigning in June by pressure from shareholders. Dara Khosrowshahi, formerly the CEO of Expedia, was hired in his place while marketing guru Bozoma Saint John was brought on to help Uber rebrand.

Benchmark, a board member and early investor in the tech giant, said it regrets granting Kalanick the privilege to remain on Uber’s board of directors with power over two other seats, following his resignation. Uber directors are scheduled to vote Tuesday on board reforms that could drastically limit Kalanick’s power, reports Bloomberg.