Could Bank of America vice chairwoman Anne Finucane end up in the driver’s seat at Uber?
One of the most powerful business executives in Boston, Finucane was contacted by representatives of Uber Technologies about replacing former chief executive Travis Kalanick, who resigned from the job under pressure in June, the online publication Axios reported Thursday.
Finucane, according to the report, is intrigued by the idea, but hasn’t begun official discussions with the company.
Uber and Bank of America declined to comment, and Finucane could not be reached for comment.
In her role as vice chair, Finucane oversees strategy, policy and marketing for one of the nation’s largest financial institutions.
In May, Finucane promoted a deputy to chief marketing officer, as she concentrates more on corporate governance issues, as well as the bank’s social-impact investing and environmental initiatives.
She started at predecessor Fleet Financial Group in 1995 and stayed after Bank of America acquired Fleet in 2004.
The Uber CEO job would be a high-profile assignment at a tense time for a company that has transformed the way people get around cities. Kalanick, co-founder of the San Francisco-based company, resigned after months of scandal. Several other executives also left the company.
The upheaval at Uber came after allegations of sexual harassment at the company headquarters and the release of a video that showed Kalanick berating a driver.
Amid the recent controversy, Uber has sought to soften its image and improve its internal culture. The company recently began allowing drivers to accept tips from riders after long resisting the idea, and also hired Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei to address cultural and managerial issues at the company.
Eastern Bank chief executive Robert Rivers said he could understand why Uber would reach out to Finucane, based on her reputation in Boston.
“Given the situation there and the bro culture, bringing in a strong and proven female leader is a real positive to get the place straightened out, especially someone with Anne’s reputation and experience in dealing with various crises,” Rivers said. “I have no doubt that she would have a very positive impact in addressing the cultural issues as well as getting the company back on track.”
The New York Times reported last week that Uber’s board has seen robust interest from potential candidates, but did not mention Finucane.
Among those reportedly up for consideration are Susan Wojcicki, who leads YouTube; Adam Bain, Twitter’s former chief operating officer, former Virgin America CEO David Cush; former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer; and former Disney chief operating officer Thomas Staggs.
As with Axios on Thursday, the Times did not identify the sources who provided the information.
The company’s next chief executive will also face the task of guiding a highly-valued startup to a sustainable future.
Valued by some estimates at more than $70 billion, the company remains far from profitable eight years after its launch. Uber has previously said it reduced losses in the first quarter of 2017 by nearly $300 million, compared to the previous quarter, yet still ran more than $700 million in the red.
The company is reportedly being considered for an initial public offering, although it’s unclear when that would happen.
Finucane would bring skills and experience to the table in that regard as well, said James Rooney, chief executive of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
“I think she would be able to assess the stage it is in and understand better, from a more strategic perspective, where the future lies,” Rooney said.
“Anne’s from the financial services world, with relationships all over that industry. To the extent there is some form of an IPO [at Uber] . . . Anne would be able to contribute vitally to that conversation.”