Today’s a big day at Uber. We’re very excited to announce that Travis Kalanick, one of Uber’s co-founders and an awesome mentor to me, has joined Uber full time and taken the role of CEO.
Travis has a long history founding and working with startups at all levels. He is a veteran entrepreneur with a strong technical background. After co-founding several companies and serving as one of Silicon Valley’s most respected Angel Investors, Travis is now back in the game and we couldn’t be more excited.
In the early days of Uber, Travis incubated the company and subsequently hired me to run with it, coaching me along the way – there was a lot to learn and Travis helped me scale the learning curve of how to build a startup. Along with overall company leadership, Travis will be building out Uber’s technical team and guiding our product vision that will continue to be critical to our success. Strong technology is how we provide such an Uber service and get you cars faster than anyone else. Travis is literally, the perfect person for this job.
Personally, I’m super pumped about how well rounded the team has become with Travis on board full time. After working shoulder to shoulder with Travis in a mentor/mentee capacity, it’s obvious to me that this partnership is the right one, and puts Uber in a very strong position to take our early successes and turn them into a huge business.
I’ll let Travis take it from here…
Ryan, thanks for kind words. I’m frickin’ pumped to be on board full-time with Uber! After a two-year recharge as an angel investor – following 15 years of entrepreneuring – I am ready to get back in the game. But being ready isn’t enough – founding and running a startup is in my blood, but as everyone who’s done it knows, it requires real sacrifices, long, long hours and it can be an neverending road. When the fit is right though, the choice becomes easy to make.
For me it starts with who it is I’m partnering with. In my short stint as an investor, my criteria was whether the guy sitting across the table is someone I could see myself starting a company with. When jumping in to run a company I helped start, it’s much the same. Do I have a profound respect for the people in the company, the people I’ll be working in the trenches with? Now of course I’m biased with Ryan Graves (I hired him at Uber after all), but there are very few young startup execs who bring the kind of hustle, emotional intelligence, and smarts to the table that he does. In the last several months with Uber, Ryan has shown the ability to build and scale an operation. Ryan will continue to drive that growth as we expand nationally and worldwide, and he’s the archetype for the kind of people he will hire to further scale the business operations side of the house.
The second meaningful criteria for me is the awesomeness of the idea. For me, that means disruption, it means contrarian, and it means that technology matters. For me, Uber is the triumvirate of startup awesomeness. Disruption is obvious, the taxi guys are losing their cool on Uber. We are game changers in the urban transportation sector, and our early growth and traction are a testament to that. The “Contrarian” tag may catch some people off-guard, but when Garrett and I would tell people about Uber 18 months ago, eyes would often roll… we weren’t the cool social network, consumer web app or the next-gen enterprise 2.0 startup. People would hem and haw about market size, about real-world logistics, etc. etc. We got Uber out there anyways and there are definitely a few angels/VCs who regret not investing now… ☺. The last category, ‘Technology matters’ probably throws a lot of people off. Most people don’t understand how systemically complex scaling and growing Uber is. Two words: Supply. Chain. For the geeks, let’s just say that we get to NP Complete before you get your cup of Joe in the morning 😉 … And let’s also say that the quality of our algorithms and technology will determine whether we win BIG and whether this becomes a true winner-takes-all category. For a true-blue techie and algorithms guy this is where the sexiness is too much to resist.
So the bottom line is that I’m all in on Uber. The excitement and joy of being Uber is coming out my pores and I’ll stop at nothing to see Uber go to every major city in the U.S. and the world. So what’s next? Taxi frustration is going down. Reliability, Efficiency, Accountability, and Professionalism in urban transportation are going WAY up. Every city Uber rolls into is going to be a better place when we’re done with it and if you live in that city, your world of transportation is changing forever, and it will be oh so Uber when that change arrives.
Update (Travis K. writing): Some of you may have read of the news on Techcrunch and Arrington’s sensational headline “Uber CEO Pumped about being replaced as CEO” — this is not a replacement. This is a partnership between Ryan and me, something we feel pretty strongly about and the reason we titled our post ‘1 + 1 = 3’ as we believe the sum of what we respectively bring to the table is far greater than the parts.