How one tweet launched Ryan Graves’ career at Uber
Ryan Graves’ career at Uber began with a tweet.
In January 2010, when Uber was less than a year old, Travis
Kalanick, then the CEO, 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, too.
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, who
resigned as CEO earlier this year.
Graves most recently served as the company’s senior vice
president of global operations, but he held several positions at
Uber, even briefly serving as CEO before handing the reins back
to Kalanick in 2011.
“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
From working for free to $1.58 billion
In 2010, Graves’ work experience included a
database-administrator position at General Electric and a stint
in business development at Foursquare, which he got by working
for the company for free after it 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 he was said to be
well-liked by his peers both within Uber and the larger tech
Chris Sacca, an early investor in Uber, wrote several glowing
tweets about Graves
on Thursday after the news of Graves 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
Kevin Rose, another investor, 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 would officially leave the company in mid-September but
remain involved with the hunt for Uber’s new CEO.
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