Uber’s first employee is stepping down, leaving its executive suite lonelier than ever

It’s looking bleak.
It’s looking bleak.
Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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Uber’s executive suite is practically deserted.

Ryan Graves, the company’s first employee and a longtime senior manager, is leaving his post as senior vice president of global operations in September. He will remain a member of Uber’s board.

“In some ways my focus going forward will not actually change very much,” Graves said in an Aug. 10 internal email obtained by Quartz. “It’s clear to me the stability of our board of directors, the selection of our new CEO, and the empowerment of our management team is what is needed most.”

It’s not clear what Graves’ move will mean as board members have openly feuded over the replacement for ousted CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber co-founder and board member Garrett Camp rattled the leadership earlier this week when he sent a note to employees saying Kalanick would not return as CEO. The Wall Street Journal reported that the note surprised other directors, who hadn’t seen or approved its contents before it was circulated to all staff.

Graves is not on the board’s CEO search committee, which consists of Kalanick, Arianna Huffington, Benchmark investor Matt Cohler, Nestle executive Wan Ling Martello, and TPG investor David Trujillo. Graves became Uber’s first employee back in 2010 after sending Kalanick his email on Twitter. He briefly served as CEO and then president, before taking on his current operational role.

Uber’s executive suite was already lonely. The company lacks a CEO, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer, among other roles. Over the last six months of scandal, SVP of engineering Amit Singhal was dismissed; ridesharing president Jeff Jones resigned; autonomous vehicle head Anthony Levandowski was fired; and chief business officer Emil Michael was forced out.

After this story was published, Uber sent Quartz a list of its current executive leadership team, which a spokeswoman said “has been running the company for some time now.” We’ve included the full list here:

  • Andrew Macdonald, regional general manager, Latin America and Asia Pacific
  • Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, regional general manager
  • Rachel Holt, regional general manager, US and Canada
  • Daniel Graf, vice president, product management
  • David Richter, SVP, business
  • Eric Meyhofer, head of Advanced Technologies Group
  • Frances Frei, SVP, leadership  and strategy
  • Jason Droege, head of Uber Everything
  • Jeff Holden, chief product officer
  • Jill Hazelbaker, SVP, policy and communications
  • Prabir Adarkar, head of finance
  • Joe Sullivan, chief security officer
  • Liane Hornsey, chief human resources officer
  • Ryan Graves, SVP, operations
  • Salle Yoo, chief legal officer and corporate secretary
  • Thuan Pham, chief technology officer

This post has been updated to include additional information from Uber.