Until now, I have resisted writing about Uber because their issues have been well-documented without my help, but last night Travis Kalanick resigned as CEO, seemingly leaving “his” company without a leader.
Though he did lead the company’s growth for the last 7 years, Travis Kalanick did not create Uber. The idea for Uber was conceived by Garrett Camp, the current Chairman of Uber’s board of directors. Camp is a 38 year old, Canadian software engineer turned entrepreneur. He founded his first company, StumbleUpon, in 2001 while earning a Master’s degree in software engineering from the University of Calgary. He sold StumbleUpon to eBay in 2007 for $75 million but remained CEO until stepping down to “work on other ventures” in 2012. Those other ventures are Expa and Uber.
Camp hired a private driver while CEO of StumbleUpon. He developed Uber in 2009, as a way to make the service more affordable – sharing the car, and the cost, between a number of his friends. Because he was committed to StumbleUpon at the time of Uber’s founding, Camp brought on Kalanick as an “advisor”. To that point, Kalanick had dropped out of a computer engineering and business economics degree at UCLA and co-founded two peer-to-peer file sharing businesses – Scour.net, which filed for bankruptcy to protect itself from a lawsuit, and Red Swoosh, which was acquired in 2007 by Akamai Technologies for $19 million. Although he served as CEO of Red Swoosh, Kalanick did not become Uber’s first CEO. He hired a seemingly less qualified candidate, Ryan Graves, who he then replaced less than a year later.
Now, Uber is looking for its third CEO. This might be an opportunity for Garrett Camp to step into an acting role while the board searches for the right hire. They are reportedly also searching for a COO (Chief Operating Officer), CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and independent board members. Marissa Mayer would be an interesting hire as COO – bringing another woman, but more importantly, more technical and managerial experience to the boardroom table.
Although he has resigned as CEO, Kalanick has not resigned from Uber. He retains his seat on the Uber board, his super-voting shares (giving him, Camp and Graves additional influence) and his 12 percent financial stake in the company. This resignation could end up being more like the leave of absence announced on June 13 if Kalanick can recover from his disastrous year, both personally and professionally.