Ryan Graves’ career at Uber began with a tweet.
In January 2010, when Uber was less than a year old, then-CEO
Travis Kalanick tweeted:
“Looking 4 entrepreneurial product mgr/biz-dev killer 4 a
location based service.. pre-launch, BIG equity, big peeps
Graves saw Kalanick’s tweet and responded: “Here’s a
tip. email me :)”. He included his email address
Graves stepped down from
Uber on Thursday, but his unconventional job application led
him to one of the longest-running tenures at Uber — he even
outlasted Kalanick himself.
Graves most recently served as the company’s SVP of Global
Operations, but he held several positions at Uber, even briefly
serving as CEO before handing the reins back to Kalanick in
“Ryan Graves’ first day was March 1st and he hit the ground
running,” Kalanick wrote in a blog post
detailing Uber’s origins. “From the day he got going, we
spent about 15-20 hours a week working together going over
product, driver on-boarding, pricing model, the whole nine. He
learned the startup game fast and worked his ass off to build the
Uber team and make the San Francisco launch and subsequent growth
a huge success.”
From working for free to $1.58 billion
Back in 2010, Graves’work experience included
at General Electric and a stint in
business development at Foursquare, which he
working for them for free after the company initially
turned him down.
Kalanick presumably followed up with Graves after his initial
tweet, and Graves became Uber’s first hire. Graves was known
throughout his time at Uber as the “Mr. Nice Guy” in contrast
with Kalanick’s aggressive personality, and is said to be
well-liked by his peers both within Uber and the larger tech
community as a whole.
Chris Sacca, an early investor in Uber, wrote several glowing
tweets about Graves
on Thursday following the news that Graves is stepping down.
Graves and Sacca are longtime friends: Graves
and his wife even spent the night at Sacca’s
house before Graves started at Uber.
Graves is “the director most consistently respected by the
others and is great at building consensus,” Sacca wrote.
His focus on the board will ensure the hiring of a world-class CEO who can succeed at growing the business while transforming the culture.
— Chris Sacca (@sacca) August 10, 2017
Investor Kevin Rose also tweeted his support:
Graves has been noticeably absent throughout Uber’s tumultuous
past six months. He transitioned to a new
“resident builder and entrepreneur” role last year, and
multiple people told Business Insider in March
that Graves’ wasn’t often seen around
the office for long stretches of time, and seemingly had a
decreased role in the company.
Graves wrote in an internal memo obtained by Business
Insider that he’ll officially leave the company in mid-September,
but he’ll remain involved with the hunt for Uber’s new CEO
resignation of Kalanick earlier this year.
These days, Uber’s $68 billion valuation makes Graves a paper
billionaire. While cofounders Kalanick and Garrett Camp
have a larger stake in the company than Graves does, Graves is
worth $1.58 billion, according to Forbes.
Maya Kosoff contributed to an earlier version of this