Uber's first CEO has resigned.
Before you say, "yeah, I know that, it happened two months ago,"--I'm not talking about Travis Kalanick.
Kalanick, despite being a founder, was actually Uber's second CEO. We're talking here about Ryan Graves, who was the top executive of Uber for the first 10 months of its existence in 2010.
He got the job after responding to a tweet from Kalanick that year, and held the post of general manager, later officially becoming the CEO). When Kalanick decided that he wanted to take over later in 2010, his decision led to Graves taking on the role of senior vice president of global operations.
Graves's trajectory also led to one of my favorite chronologies on a LinkedIn profile, where Graves's says he went from being an intern at Foursquare one month to the CEO of Uber within a single month. (He was also an IT Program Leader at GE Healthcare at the same time.) He's widely reported to have remained close to Kalanick, and Graves will hold onto his board seat.
Graves's company-wide goodbye email is excerpted below. Before we get to it, it's worth recounting exactly how he landed the job (and the internship at Foursquare, too, for that matter). As I wrote two years ago, Graves hadn't enjoyed his "unglamorous" role at GE, where he was likely making a six-figure salary.
So, during 2009, he decided he wanted a position at Foursquare. He was turned down, but decided to start doing the job anyway, cold-calling businesses in Chicago and convincing them to sign up for Foursquare. When he had 30 signups in hand, he contacted everyone he could find who was related to the leadership of Foursquare, including its investors.
Foursquare brought him on as an intern, then he saw the tweet from Kalanick and replied to that--and the rest is history. Oh, and it made him a billionaire--worth almost $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.
Here are two excerpts from Graves's resignation email. You can read the entire email here.
[T]here 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.