Uber CEO says company is 'actively looking for' a new chief operating officer

Travis Kalanick.
David Orrell | CNBC

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced the search for a new right-hand executive as a series of missteps has left the ride-hailing company doing damage control.

"This morning I told the Uber team that we're actively looking for a Chief Operating Officer: a peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey," Kalanick said in a statement.

Recode originally reported the news, noting that the company has hired a search firm, with a vision to snag dream candidates like former Disney operating officer Tom Staggs and CVS exec Helena Foulkes. The company is also looking at mostly women candidates to fill a vacant board seat, Recode reported.

Technology news site The Information earlier reported that Kalanick may seek a No. 2 to "stave off pressure for him to step down."

Uber's latest transgressions began when former employee Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing several allegations of gender bias and sexual harassment. An exodus of several top staffers ensued, including Amit Singhal, who was asked to resign after an allegation of sexual harassment surfaced from his previous job at Google. Then a video revealed Kalanick shouting profanities at his Uber driver. To top it off, The New York Times published an expose about Uber's long-time use of a tool called "Greyball" to avoid giving rides to certain people.

Kalanick has apologized for the video, and the company has launched an investigation into Fowler's claims. Uber told CNBC the "greyballing" is for "fraudulent users," including "opponents who collude with officials on secret 'stings'" by local authorities.

"[Kalanick's] definitely looking at strengthening the management team … because Uber is a phenomenal growth story," Uber board member Arianna Huffington told CNBC in early March. "And when a company grows so fast, across the globe, it's essential to establish the kind of structures that prevent what happened from happening again."

Huffington said the company already has hired some "amazing" new leadership in the past few months, including Jeff Jones as president and Liane Hornsey to head human resources.

Uber would not be the first company to use the role of chief operating officer to build a support system for a CEO. Perhaps the most famous chief operating officer in tech, Sheryl Sandberg, has been CEO Mark Zuckerberg's "partner" in running Facebook and is also an outspoken advocate for women in the workplace.