Jeff Holden, the man behind UberPool and flying taxi service Elevate, quits Uber
Jeff Holden, the Chief Product Officer at Uber Technologies Inc., is moving out. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Jeff told colleagues at Uber that Thursday, May 17, was his last day at the company. Jeff joined Uber in March 2014 from Groupon, where he was the SVP of Product Management. He oversaw the development of UberPool, the widely popular ridesharing service, and in the last couple of years had been heading Elevate, Uber’s flying taxi initiative. There is no news about what Jeff’s next job or professional role will be.
Before joining Groupon, Jeff spent almost a decade at Amazon, where he was instrumental in the development of the Amazon Prime membership programme. At Uber, he quickly became one of Founder and CEO Travis Kalanick’s “inner circle”, helping him create the company’s corporate values. The same corporate values drew a huge amount of criticism last year after employee allegations of sexual harassment, eventually leading to Travis’s resignation. After Travis departed, Jeff was one of 16 people tapped to form a committee to manage Uber’s operations during the transition to a new CEO; he is the seventh person of that group to leave the company in recent months.
According to Recode, despite being CPO, Jeff was involved only minimally in Uber’s day-to-day operations in the last couple of years. Most of the responsibilities of running Uber’s product side of things fell to VP of Product Daniel Graf. Daniel’s former deputy Manik Gupta is now the interim head of product at Uber, after Daniel’s departure earlier this year. However, Jeff played a very visible role as the face of Uber’s Elevate service, even taking the stage at Uber’s Elevate Summit last week to deliver a keynote speech promoting the proposed flying taxi service. Uber revealed that Jeff will be succeeded by Eric Allison, the former CEO of flying car company Zee Aero, as the head of Elevate.
An Uber spokesperson said, “We’re incredibly bullish on the future of aerial ride-sharing...Under the leadership of Eric Allison, the Elevate team is set up for success and will continue to chart the course for this growing industry.”
Jeff’s departure from Uber is the latest in a series of personnel and policy changes at the company. David Richter, Uber’s Global Head of Business and Corporate Development, left earlier this month, following the departure of Daniel Graf and former Chief Legal Officer Salle Yoo. New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has also been aggressively pushing to establish “a new set of cultural norms” at Uber in recent months, with particular emphasis on “We Do the Right Thing. Period”, following the criticism faced by the company since Travis’s departure. Just a couple of days ago, Dara revealed that Uber was stopping the practice of forcing its riders, employees, and drivers to resort to arbitration to resolve complaints of sexual assault and harassment, a move hailed by many as a sign of change.
The reason for Jeff’s resignation is unknown, but his departure will leave a void in a company just finding its feet again after a tough year. Eric Allison will have the unenviable job of helping Uber Elevate “take off” (pun intended), as will the person who succeeds Jeff as CPO at Uber. What will this mean for Uber’s plans for its future? We wait and watch.