Billionaire businessman David Bonderman, announced Tuesday that he is resigning from ride-sharing company Uber’s board of directors, effective Wednesday morning.
Bonderman’s announcement came just hours after it was revealed he had made a joke about women at a company-wide meeting that was aimed at addressing the harassment of women and other unprofessional conduct within the company.
At the event, Bonderman interrupted fellow board member Arianna Huffington, who was explaining the benefits of having more female representation on Uber's board. According to audio of the meeting, as well as several people who heard the remarks, Bonderman said that adding female board members would make it "much more likely there'll be more talking.”
In an email that was sent later to company employees, Bonderman said: "I want to apologize to my fellow board member for a disrespectful comment" that he called "inappropriate."
Bonderman, the 74-year-old co-founder of a private equity firm, also apologized personally to Huffington.
"David has apologized to all Uber employees for a remark that was totally inappropriate and against the new culture we are building at Uber," Huffington said in a statement.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, Bonderman apologized once again and said he did not want to be a “distraction” as Uber seeks to move past accusations of harassment and sexual discrimination. Former Attorney General Eric Holder just recently concluded a three month-long independent investigation into the company.
Holder’s recommendations for the company, which were unanimously approved by its board, including Bonderman, cited leadership for failing to establish basic non-discrimination policies and anti-bullying measures, according to the Associated Press.
At the same time, Uber is reeling from a leadership crisis that has led to the departure this week of chief executive Travis Kalanick, as well as his close ally and confidante, Emil Michael, a senior vice president at Uber.
Kalanick's return date is not specified, and his responsibilities will undergo "review" to possibly shift some duties to other executives. He also faces the likelihood of reduced clout on the board, which is adding new "independent" members and creating an oversight committee to monitor efforts to improve corporate ethics and diversity.
"The ultimate responsibility, for where we've gotten and how we've gotten here rests on my shoulders," Kalanick wrote in an email to employees. "There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve. For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve."
In describing reasons for the leave, Kalanick also cited the death of his mother and serious injuring of his father in a boating accident last month, saying, "I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team."