Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick severs last ties to company

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Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will reportedly step down from the company’s board on December 31. Kalanick’s decision cuts all formal ties between the billionaire and his ride-sharing brainchild. Kalanick has also been selling off Uber shares since the company’s lockup period ended in November. According to investors, he owned over $2.5 billion worth of stock.

Uber released a statement on December 24, highlighting that Kalanick intends to pursue other endeavors in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. One of the more publicized is a commercial kitchen services business called CloudKitchens.

Uber’s current CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, thanked Kalanick and acknowledged the founder’s tremendous contributions to the world of transportation. “Very few entrepreneurs have built something as profound as Travis Kalanick did with Uber. I’m enormously grateful for Travis’ vision and tenacity while building Uber, and for his expertise as a board member.”

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A Complicated Relationship

Uber and Kalanick have a complicated relationship. Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded the company back in 2009. The duo took Uber from a novel concept to one of the most transformative and disruptive businesses of the 2010s. Today, more than 75 million people in 60 countries order over 60 million Uber rides per day.

Two years ago, Kalanick stepped down as CEO after allegations surfaced that gender discrimination and sexual harassment were left unpunished at Uber’s offices. Shareholders called for Kalanick to remove himself officially from leadership after he announced an indefinite leave of absence. However, Kalanick ultimately remained in the picture as a board member.

Today, Kalanick and Khosrowshahi appear to have a positive relationship, although they hold differing opinions related to some of Uber’s current operations. It is unclear at this time who will fill Kalanick’s seat on the board. 

Kalanick’s New Adventures

Outside of Uber, Kalanick has stayed busy. He started an investment firm through which he invested $150 million to gain a controlling stake in a holding company called City Storage Systems. Through that entity, Kalanick buys up underutilized real estate for new purposes. 

One idea that Kalanick is particularly interested in is the “smart kitchen” concept, which helps restaurants optimize their operations for dine-out orders. He has been quietly working on expanding the Los Angeles-based company, CloudKitchens. The startup leases space to restaurateurs and functions like a WeWork for restaurants.

Kalanick also started a fund called 10100 that focuses on large-scale job creation and innovation in emerging economies. On the nonprofit side, 10100 invests in education and urban development.  

Uber Preparing for the Next Decade

Uber is full steam ahead with CEO Khosrowshahi at the helm. The ride-hailing giant is expanding outside of its core operations to tackle transportation and freight more broadly. 

The company recently announced it is partnering with air taxi manufacturer, Joby Aviation, to bring electrical commuter aviation to reality. Uber is also working on self-driving cars and plans to launch a grocery delivery service. Additionally, the company is building out a freight business to tackle challenges in the long-haul space. 

In spite of how much Uber has changed the world over the last ten years, the company is still unprofitable. Uber lost over $5 billion in Q2 of this year alone. According to Khosrowshahi, there is a $12 trillion total addressable market that remains mostly unpenetrated.

We’ll see if investors can wait another decade to see Uber turn a profit.

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