Uber's first employee, Ryan Graves, steps down from board of directors

Just two weeks after the ride-hailing company went public, its board is getting a shakeup.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
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Ryan Graves was Uber's first CEO.

James Martin/CNET

One of Uber's board members, Ryan Graves, is stepping down just two weeks after the company went public.

Graves was Uber's first employee when it was a nascent Silicon Valley company with just a handful of employees. He quickly ascended Uber's ranks and briefly became its first CEO in 2010. Graves is seen as having played a significant role in shaping the ride-hailing company into the behemoth it is today. 

While no longer involved in Uber's day-to-day, Graves still sat on the company's board of directors. Now he's resigning. The news was released Friday through a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

"As a thoughtful and engaged director, Ryan has continued to add value to Uber, offering insights and judgments that have helped us navigate the ups and downs of the business as we have grown over the past decade," Ron Sugar, Uber's independent chairperson of the board, said in the filing. "While this is a bittersweet moment, we accept his personal decision that this is the right time for him to step down."

Uber didn't respond to a request for comment.

Graves ceded his role as Uber CEO to company co-founder Travis Kalanick in 2010. He eventually became the senior vice president of global operations where he focused on initiatives like Uber's food delivery service, Uber Eats. Graves stepped down from that position in August 2017, but stayed on Uber's board of directors.

"In the past 7.5 years of building Uber, I've learned so many different lessons, one of which is the fact that people who embrace uncertainty and change have the best grip on reality," Graves wrote in an email at the time.

He left Uber during a rocky time for the company. Mired in scandals, Uber had lost more than a dozen high-level execs over the previous few months -- mostly notably Kalanick. When Graves stepped down, the company was still searching for a new chief executive. Current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi joined the following month.

While Uber has stabilized from that wave of scandals, it's entered into a new uncertain period: being a public company

Uber issued its initial public offering two weeks ago with a tumultuous start. Its shares opened at $42 per share, $3 lower than its preopen price of $45, and closed the day at $41.57, down nearly 8%. It hasn't gotten any better since then. Trading closed on Friday at $41.51 per share.

Graves is now the CEO and founder of investment firm Saltwater Capital. His resignation from Uber's board of directors is effective as of May 27.