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    An Uber representative put up signs at LaGuardia Airport in New York, Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

    Fleeing the Sinking Ship: Yet Another Top-Level Uber Staffer Resigns

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    In the latest instalment of Uber's continuing spell of catastrophic news, Sherif Marakby, the firm's Vice President of Global Vehicle Programs and a key orchestrator of its self-driving vehicle program, has handed in his resignation.

    Marakby is a relatively new recruit to the embattled gig taxi giant, headhunted in April 2016 from traditional automobile behemoth Ford, where he served for 25 years, rising to the rank of Director of Global Electronics and Engineering. In a statement issued at the time, Marakby said he was focused on safety in Uber's self-driving division, as car accidents were a leading cause of death among young people.

    He subsequently oversaw the creation and launch of Uber's self-driving vehicle initiatives, but apparently decided to cut ties with the company before the plans reached fruition. 

    Official statements from Uber and Marakby shed no light on his reasons for leaving. However, Marakby said the company had presented him with "the most interesting challenges" he'd yet worked on, and Uber said his "deep experience and knowledge" had helped "tremendously" in working to make self-driving cars a reality.

    Marakby is far from unique in opting to flee Uber's ranks — he follows in the footsteps of the firm's vice president of product and growth, Head of Communications, and Head of Artificial Intelligence Labs. All quit in the first months of 2017.

    In February, a former Uber engineer made serious allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at the firm's offices, and claimed management repeatedly dismissed her complaints, protected a repeat offender and threatened to sack her for raising concerns.

    Nonetheless, the year will have to strive even harder to surpass 2014 as the company's annus horribilis.

    That year, a driver hit three pedestrians, killing one; NY General Manager Josh Mohrer and 13 other senior employees "pranked" rival service Gett by ordering and canceling rides; a driver was sued by a passenger for sexual assault; a driver was arrested mid-trip; a driver with past convictions was charged with misdemeanor battery for striking a passenger and calling him a "dirty Mexican faggot"; a driver was arrested for bringing an unconscious female passenger to a motel and spending the night with her; a driver essentially kidnapped his fare while being chased by a taxi inspector, trying to avoid a fine for driving outside Virginia.

    Uber staff also "pranked" rival service Lyft, ordering and canceling over 5,000 rides; the company was banned in Germany and France, and some US states; a passenger was driven by her Uber driver to a secluded area instead of her home address, then locked the doors — only taking her home after she began screaming; Uber executive Emil Michael suggested the company hire a team of researchers to "dig up dirt" on  journalists critical of the company.

    Related:

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    Hit the Road, Jack: Uber Gets the Boot From Italy for Unfair Competition
    Back At It: Uber Resumes Self-Driving Car Program After Weekend Crash
    Uber’s Self-Driving Car Program Flees from California to Arizona
    Tags:
    taxi, car accident, business, self-driving car, resignation, Uber, Sherif Marakby, United States
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