Uber’s big wild card has finally taken himself out of the deck.
Travis Kalanick — the brash ex-CEO who got into trouble with regulators over his relentless push for growth and tolerance of a “tech bro” culture of sex harassment — will leave Uber’s board of directors at the end of the year.
Kalanick is cutting ties with the company amid his recent cash-out of $2.6 billion in Uber shares, amounting to nearly all of the stake he had amassed as a co-founder.
“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,” Kalanick said in a Tuesday statement. “I’m proud of all that Uber has achieved, and I will continue to cheer for its future from the sidelines.”
Kalanick expanded Uber at a breakneck pace, picking fights along the way with local officials and the taxi industry, which he once called an “a–hole.” London is trying to kick Uber out while New York City has imposed tough new regulations — battles the company is still fighting.
Kalanick held onto an Uber board seat after his 2017 ouster as CEO — spurring fears of a possible comeback attempt, and a lawsuit from major shareholder Benchmark Capital to kick him off. The suit was dropped in early 2018 as some investors sold their stakes to Softbank.
Kalanick, meanwhile, started dumping his more than 92.1 million Uber shares Nov. 6 after the end of a post-IPO lockup period that barred insiders from selling. His most recent sale on Dec. 19 left Kalanick with 5.8 million shares, less than 6 percent of the stake he declared before Uber’s first day of trading in May, securities filings show.
Uber shares closed up 0.5 percent Tuesday at $30.48.
Kalanick’s final departure could help Uber and his successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, clear the “lingering cloud” of the post-IPO lockup, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said. The company’s stock price hit a low of $25.58 the day the lockup ended, down from its $42 opening on its first trading day.
“With ripping the band-aid off and Travis leaving stage left on the board, we believe now its about Dara & Co. taking Uber in the right direction for 2020 and beyond after a rough road so far,” Ives wrote in a Tuesday note.
Kalanick’s tenure as Uber’s chief executive came to an end in June 2017 amid a cascade of scandals.
A viral February 2017 blog post by female engineer Susan Fowler broke open Uber’s “bro culture” of sexual harassment, which led to a $4.4 million settlement with the feds announced last week. Then the New York Times detailed the “Greyball” program Uber used to evade local authorities — weeks before a report that Kalanick took five workers to a South Korean “escort-karaoke” bar.
Amid reports that Kalanick might try to stage a comeback as Uber’s divided board searched for his successor, the company settled on Khosrowshahi, to whom Kalanick tearfully handed the reins in August 2017.
Uber bosses — who reportedly locked him out of the balcony over the New York Stock Exchange when Uber went public in May — on Tuesday praised his work as CEO and wished him well on his next projects. Those include CloudKitchens, a startup that provides commercial kitchens to delivery-based restaurants.
“Very few entrepreneurs have built something as profound as Travis Kalanick did with Uber,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “I’m enormously grateful for Travis’ vision and tenacity while building Uber, and for his expertise as a board member.”