Travis Kalanick may have been forced out of his CEO position at Uber more than two years ago, but he’s still held substantial influence over the company by maintaining his seat on the company’s board. It’s a familiar play for tech companies trying to do damage control, having a CEO step down while they retain power through other channels (see recently: Away’s Steph Korey). But as of the end of this month, Kalanick is stepping down from his role on Uber’s board, too, severing ties with the company that made him a billionaire.
Kalanick will sell off the rest of his stake in Uber, which has already earned him more than $2 billion, even as he came under fire for fostering a toxic workplace environment rife with sexism, discrimination, and harassment. He also aggressively pursued growth through measures that sometimes violated the law and endangered riders.
Kalanick was succeeded as CEO by Dara Khosrowshahi, who eventually took the company to its initial public offering and allowed Kalanick to turn his stake into actual money. Some investors feared that by forcing Kalanick out as CEO but allowing him to remain on the board, he would try to operate as an unofficial CEO and create a power struggle. “Uber has been a part of my life for the past 10 years. At the close of the decade, and with the company now public, it seems like the right moment for me to focus on my current business and philanthropic pursuits,” he said in a statement.
Kalanick’s next business pursuit operates on many of the same principles as Uber, using apps and gig-economy business models to get physical stuff from point A to point B more efficiently. He is starting up what he calls “cloud kitchens,” which are intended to produce food for app-based delivery services, not brick-and-mortar restaurants that employ a full staff.