Top Uber executive stepping down

Ryan Graves, the first employee at Uber Technologies Inc. and a longtime board member, is stepping down from his management role after a tumultuous year.

Graves serves as senior vice president of operations at Uber and is on the executive leadership team tasked with running the business in the absence of a chief executive officer. Graves, 34, said in a staff email that he’ll relinquish those positions in mid-September but will remain on the board to help the ride-hailing company search for a CEO to replace co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted in June.

“We should have taken more time to reflect on our mistakes and make changes together,” Graves wrote in the email to employees. “Regardless of which role I hold in the future, I’ll be dedicated to supporting Uber’s leadership, partnering with Uber’s new CEO to understand the complexities of this business.”

An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the email but declined to comment further.

After Kalanick founded Uber with Garrett Camp in 2009, they brought on Graves as the first employee. A former management consultant in Chicago, Graves started as general manager and was soon promoted to be the company’s first CEO. He helped lay the groundwork in Uber’s hometown of San Francisco as officials grappled with the implications the mobile service would have on transportation.

Graves had taken on various roles in management during the last seven years. He led Uber’s expansion efforts as the company grew to 8,000 employees with operations in more than 450 cities, according to the spokeswoman. He was a reliable cheerleader internally, even as his position within the company diminished over the years with the appointment of more seasoned executives.

Uber’s global workforce now exceeds 15,000 employees and spans 600 cities. But a long string of scandals this year have weighed heavily on morale.

The company has been in upheaval following protests over ties to the Trump administration and accusations that its workplace is unwelcoming to women. Uber is also battling a lawsuit with Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car business and a probe by the U.S. Justice Department over the use of technology to deceive enforcement officials. Graves grew overwhelmed by the turmoil, which contributed to his decision to leave, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

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Top Uber executive stepping down