Uber co-founder Kalanick walks away with R42 billion

Controversial former CEO severs ties with the ride services company to focus on industrial kitchens

02 January 2020 - 16:55 By Reuters
Travis Kalanick.
Travis Kalanick.
Image: Reuters

Travis Kalanick, the pugnacious co-founder of Uber, has severed his last ties with the ride-services company, resigning from the board and selling his stake of roughly $3 billion (R42 billion). He will turn his focus to a new venture creating “ghost kitchens” for food delivery services.

Kalanick, who helped found Uber in 2009 and once exerted nearly complete control, stepped down as CEO in June 2017 under pressure from investors after a string of setbacks.

Kalanick's bellicose style turned Uber into the world's largest ride-services company, revolutionised the taxi industry and challenged transportation regulations worldwide.

“Very few entrepreneurs have built something as profound as Travis Kalanick did with Uber,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement, crediting Kalanick's “vision and tenacity”.

But his brashness was also blamed for a string of scandals and complaints over his leadership, resulting in a shareholder revolt to push him out.

Kalanick said in a statement that now Uber was a public company, he wanted to focus on his current business and philanthropic pursuits. He is working on a start-up called CloudKitchens, that aims to build large industrial kitchens and lease space to restaurants. The “ghost kitchens” would prepare meals for food delivery without the costs of waiters and the real estate of locations that serve diners.

Uber stock has dropped more than 30% since the loss-making company went public in May as investors grow sceptical over its business model and ability to turn a profit.

When Kalanick resigned in 2017, the company had been through a bruising six months during which employees accused the former CEO of fostering a toxic work culture that encouraged sexual harassment and bullying.