/Ubers engineering head is leaving after clash with the product chief

Ubers engineering head is leaving after clash with the product chief

  • Sukumar Rathnam is stepping down soon as Uber’s chief technology officer, sources tell Insider.
  • The engineering chief had differences in style with Sundeep Jain, Uber’s chief product officer
  • CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was interim CTO after previous engineering boss Thuan Pham left in 2020 

Uber’s Chief Technology Officer Sukumar Rathnam is stepping down as the company’s head of engineering, according to people familiar with the matter. The move could be announced as soon as this week, the people said.

Rathnam has been increasingly at odds with the company’s chief product officer Sundeep Jain, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive issues. That tension had occasionally trickled down in a disruptive way to the company’s respective engineering and product teams, but it’s unclear whether this is related to Rathnam’s imminent departure.

Rathnam joined Uber about a year ago, replacing long-serving technical chief Thuan Pham. Rathnam previously worked as an executive at Amazon, where he lead teams responsible for product selection and catalogue systems. Prior to Amazon, he worked at Microsoft and Oracle, according to his company biography. 

At Uber, the CTO is responsible for global engineering teams and technical management for its ridehailing and delivery units. The engineering teams work alongside the product organization, led by Jain, which is responsible for product designs as well as data science teams.  

Part of the tension between the two leaders may have arisen from their previous experience working at different tech giants, which have contrasting approaches to engineering and product design. As an Amazon veteran, Rathnam came from a company where engineering teams are often empowered to control the product. Jain used to be at Google, where product managers often have primacy in determining strategy and design. The two executives didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“We thank Sukumar for his contributions to raising the engineering and talent bar at Uber, and wish him all the best,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. 

Sundeep Jain

Uber Chief Product Officer Sundeep Jain.

Uber


In the last year, Uber has struggled with attrition among executives and other employees. It’s been a frequent topic during company all-hands meetings; over the summer Uber’s head of human resources acknowledged that turnover had been high, but argued it was an issue affecting all companies during the pandemic.

It’s unclear how Uber’s engineering teams will be structured after Rathnam leaves. He was hired last September to fill a hole that had been temporarily occupied by Khosrowshahi, who stepped in after Pham abruptly resigned last May. Khosrowshahi had also served as Uber’s interim head of product until the company promoted Jain into the role this past March. 

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