Tech: Uber's first employee and a close confidant of ex CEO Travis Kalanick is stepping down
Uber's Ryan Graves, a Travis Kalanick confidante, is stepping down from his day-to-day role and focusing on his role on the board of directors.
Ryan Graves, Uber's first employee and a confidant of former CEO Travis Kalanick, is stepping aside from his operational role at the $69 billion ride-sharing company. Graves will remain on Uber's board of directors.
In a memo to staff announcing his move on Thursday, Graves said he will make the transition in September, in order to help the company in its efforts to bring on a new CEO.
"It’s clear to me the stability of our board of directors, the selection of our new CEO, and the empowerment of our management team is what is needed most," Graves said in the memo which was obtained by Business Insider.
Graves, who has held a number of role at Uber since its founding in 2009, is the company's SVP of Global Operations, where he focuses primarily on Uber's efforts to expand into the delivery business with services such as UberEats and UberRush.
In this memo, Graves explains that he's stepping down in mid-September so his departure "doesn't take away from the onboarding process of our new CEO, whoever they might be." He writes that he'll remain involved with the hunt for Uber's new CEO, following the resignation of Kalanick earlier this year in the wake of several scandals.
Graves is a well-liked figure within Uber and has been central to the ride-hailing company's rapid transformation into a $69 billion powerhouse over the past seven years. After serving a brief stint as Uber's first CEO from 2010 to 2011, Graves handed the reins to Kalanick and eventually assumed the role of Uber's president and VP of operations.
Aside from his job responsibilities, Graves served as an important counter-balance to the aggressive, win-at-all-costs mentality personified by Kalanick. People who know and have worked with Graves recently told Business Insider that his attitude and outlook improved Uber's culture since he was "Mr. Nice Guy."
In his memo, Graves says that he learned one lesson from the tumutlous last several months at the scandal-rocked Uber: "We should have taken more time to reflect on our mistakes and make changes together."
Here's a copy of Grave's goodbye memo:
Uber team —
In the past 7.5 years of building Uber, I’ve learned so many different lessons, one of which is the fact that people who embrace uncertainty and change have the best grip on reality. In the middle of September, I’ll be embracing another big change on my journey with Uber and will transition out of a full-time operating role to focus on my role as a Board Director.
In every position I’ve held at Uber, as GM, then CEO, then SVP of Global Operations, I’ve focused on people and team. Uber’s launch, our rapid growth, and now global impact, are all a testament to the quality of the folks that I have had the pleasure of working and growing with. That team is now the driving force behind the durability and importance of the business we run in over 600+ cities.
In some ways my focus going forward will not actually change very much — it remains all about people, and it’s clear to me the stability of our board of directors, the selection of our new CEO, and the empowerment of our management team is what is needed most. So I will do everything in my power to deliver on those goals for the benefit of our organization and the millions of people — riders, drivers, eaters and couriers — and their communities that Uber serves every day.
I could not possibly stress enough how insanely proud I am of this organization. The dedication towards our mission of providing transportation that can be trusted, to everyone, is noble. We, as a team, have achieved something that has truly changed the world for the better, and will continue to do so long into the future.
I also have deep gratitude for the lessons learned from Travis, from my colleagues on Uber’s ELT, and my Global Ops leadership team over the years — notably Rachel, Austin, Jo, Mac, Pierre, Droege, Penn, Jambu, Ro, Mike, Amit, Meghan, Barnes, and so many others who have given so much of their hearts and lives to building this company. Thank you. Without you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and for that, I will forever be in your debt.
When you go through an experience like we have building Uber you forget that it’s not just the people across the desk that are making a huge investment, it’s also the partners and spouses, the families and the friends at home also making sacrifices. I would never have been able to make this journey without my wife Molly there to listen and advise. The ride hasn’t always been easy but nevertheless, she’s been there with me to laugh, to cry, to plan, and to celebrate. She deserves more credit than anyone in supporting me through it all. She’s been the most constant and enduring partner, right at my side, and building her own company and our family along the way. I *really* look forward to being able to return the love and spend more time with her and with our boys.
So, why now? Well, there is no great time for a move like this one. But it’s really important to me that this transition doesn’t take away from the importance of the onboarding process of our new CEO, whoever they might be. My hope is that ensuring my transition is known and planned for well before our board's decision on CEO it will help to make it clear to our team and to our new leader that I will be there to support however I can.
There is another lesson I’ve learned that we should have applied much earlier. We should have taken more time to reflect on our mistakes and make changes together. There always seemed to be another goal, another target, another business or city to launch. Confucius said that reflection is the noblest method to learn wisdom, and fortunately, our new found reflection and introspection has become an asset to us and we have evolved and grown considerably. Our culture, our processes, our leaders, and our teams have become wiser, stronger, and more mature because of it. Regardless of which role I hold in the future, I’ll be dedicated to supporting Uber’s leadership, partnering with Uber’s new CEO to understand the complexities of this business and this organization, and to continuing to deliver on the critically important mission and future we have ahead of us. Again, thank you all, and let's Uber on!