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Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick leaves company's board of directors

He's sold off nearly 95% of his stake in the company, worth more than $2.5 billion, over the last seven weeks.

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Travis Kalanick was the driving force behind Uber for nearly a decade. Now he's completely exiting the company. 

James Martin/CNET

Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former CEO of Uber, will resign from the company's board of directors by the end of the year. This comes after he sold more than $2.5 billion of company stock since early November. His departure will be effective Dec. 31. 

"Uber has been a part of my life for the past 10 years," Kalanick said in a statement Tuesday. "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. I'm proud of all that Uber has achieved, and I will continue to cheer for its future from the sidelines."

Kalanick was forced to step down as CEO of Uber in 2017 by five of the company's top investors. The move came after months of scandals at the company, which included a dashcam video of Kalanick berating an Uber driver, a #DeleteUber movement, allegations of a chaotic corporate culture that OK'd sexual harassment and a lawsuit brought by Waymo claiming Uber stole its self-driving car tech

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder conducted an investigation into Uber in 2017 and concluded the leadership of the company created a hostile work environment.  

Even though Kalanick resigned as CEO of Uber more than two years ago, he still held significant control at the company. He was on the board of directors and owned nearly 100 million shares in Uber stock. 

But, over the last two months, he began selling off those shares in small blocks, according to SEC filings. Since the lockup period for Uber's initial public offering ended on Nov. 6, Kalanick sold 94% of his stake in the company in 36 separate transactions. That's more than 92 million shares, worth about $2.58 billion. He still owns nearly 6 million shares in Uber. 

"Many investors will be glad to see this dark chapter in the rearview mirror," said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. "The overhang from the lockup has been a lingering cloud over the Uber name over the past few months."

Uber has experienced a bruising as a public company. Since its debut on Wall Street in May, its share price has slumpedthree board members have stepped down, and it's seen an exodus of executives. Uber has also laid off about 5% of its staff in three rounds of cuts. 

The company's shares are currently trading at around $30 -- roughly 33% lower than Uber's pre-IPO price of $45. Its valuation has also plummeted from $76 billion before it went public to about $52 billion today.

Since his ouster at Uber, Kalanick bought a controlling stake in a real estate venture called City Storage Systems. He's narrowed his focus on a restaurant delivery business within the company called CloudKitchens. The company provides shared kitchen space for delivery-only restaurants. 

Kalanick reportedly raised $400 million from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund for CloudKitchens in January, according to The Wall Street Journal. This was the fund's first known investment in a tech company since journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

"Very few entrepreneurs have built something as profound as Travis Kalanick did with Uber," Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's current CEO, said in a statement Tuesday. "I'm enormously grateful for Travis' vision and tenacity while building Uber, and for his expertise as a board member. Everyone at Uber wishes him all the best."

Originally published Dec. 24, 6:59 a.m. PT.
Update, 8:33 a.m.: Adds comment from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and additional background information. 
Update, 9:03 a.m.: Adds comment from Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

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