You are currently viewing How a Man Made $700 Million Driving for Uber – The Ryan Graves Story

How a Man Made $700 Million Driving for Uber – The Ryan Graves Story

Don’t let the title fool you. Ryan Graves didn’t build his wealth through a carpool stampede. It was more of a tweet.



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Let’s go back to January 5, 2010. At the time, Uber was less than a year old. And then CEO Travis Kalanick tweeted: “Looking for 4 entrepreneurial product mgr/biz-dev killer 4 location-based service.

In response to Kalanick’s tweet, Graves replied, “Here’s a tip. Email me :)”. Graves wisely included his email address as well.

When he got the job, Graves was in charge of an information technology management training program at General Electric. But all of that was about to change quickly. Thanks to this tweet, Ryan Graves became Uber’s first employee on March 1, 2010.

“I was hitting Craigslist, Twitter and other channels looking for the right candidate,” Kalanick documented in a 2010 blog post about the founding of Uber. “What resulted was the most impressive job posting and response I’ve ever seen.”

Clearly, Uber has become, well, an extremely successful company. Of course, there have been ebbs and flows. In April 2022, Uber’s market capitalization was $63.41 billion. As a result, Uber is the 242nd most valuable company in the world by market capitalization.

Due to his stake in the business, within five years of joining the business, Graves became a billionaire. In 2016, Graves was ranked the 12th richest entrepreneur under 40. In 2021, his fortune was estimated at $2.1 billion, according to Forbes. While he may not be a billionaire anymore. Ryan Graves is still a multi-millionaire because he went out on a branch and tweeted.

From working for free to $1.58 billion

Graves’ work experience before Uber, including a job as a database administrator at General Electric and a brief stint at Foursquare in business development. Foursquare initially refused to hire him, but he got the job through free work.

Graves, who was contacted by Kalanick after that iconic initial tweet, is believed to be Uber’s first employee. In contrast to Kalanick’s aggressive personality, Graves was known as the “Mr. Nice Guy” when he was at Uber. His colleagues, both within the company and in the broader tech communities, thought highly of him.

Early investor in Uber, Chris Sacca and longtime friend praised Graves in several tweets following the announcement of his resignation in 2017.

Graves, Sacca wrote, is “the director most respected by others and is good at building consensus.”

Graves, according to Kalanick, “took off” as soon as he joined Uber. “Since the day he started, we’ve spent about 15-20 hours a week working together on the product, driver onboarding, pricing model, everything. He learned the starter game quickly and has worked hard to build the Uber team and make the San Francisco launch and subsequent growth a huge success,” Kalanick wrote in the aforementioned 2010 blog post.

At Uber, Graves served as CEO for nearly a year and senior vice president of global operations for nearly seven years. Graves has been said to be key to defining Uber’s core values, such as its “super-pumping” and entering international markets.

However, it has not always been easy.

Graves resigned from Uber in August 2017 – two months after Kalanick was forced to quit when an investigation into Uber’s culture uncovered evidence of sexual harassment and abuse. Additionally, Graves was aware of the “grey ball,” a method used by Uber to evade regulators around the world, according to The New York Times.

Post a Career at Uber

Even though Graves resigned from Uber in 2017, he remained on the board. Additionally, he was one of the executives who would have run the company when there was no CEO. And, he also oversaw UberEverything – this includes UberEats and UberRUSH).

In 2019, Graves left Uber after Uber named Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO. But, he still grinded.

In 2017, he founded Saltwater Capital. He is still CEO and the private investment firm has invested in companies like Calm and Equator Coffees & Teas.

In February 2021, it was announced that Graves would invest $50 million in auto insurance startup Metromile both personally and through Saltwater. Graves will also serve on the board along with Mark Cuban and other institutional investors.

In October 2021, Variety reported that actor Kelley Dauten will portray Graves in the Showtime anthology series “Super Pumped.”

Frequently asked questions about becoming a millionaire

1. Is there an easy way to become a millionaire?

By saving your money as soon as possible, you can take advantage of compounding and become a millionaire. You will earn more interest if you start saving at an early age. It will also give you the opportunity to earn more money through your interests.

Your goal should be to save at least 15% of your income. Getting professional financial advice and cutting unnecessary expenses will also help you reach your million dollar goal. Getting a second job or upgrading your skills are two options you should consider if you are able.

2. Do I need a top graduate degree to become a millionaire?

“With our condolences to those with college debt, a college degree improves your chances of having a higher lifetime income, but it doesn’t necessarily improve your chances of joining the millionaire club” , write the editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. According to “The Millionaire Next Door,” only 18% of those with a net worth of $1 million or more have a master’s degree, while 8% have a law degree and 6% have gone to medical school.

According to an analysis by Spectrem Group, a consulting firm specializing in research and wealth management, 74% of millionaires hold an undergraduate degree. For billionaires, that number is 70.1%, according to the 2015 Wealth-X Census.

“Don’t get me wrong: many graduate degrees are worth it,” they add. “The median annual salary for someone with a professional degree is $98,436 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to $67,860 for the typical four-year college graduate. A high school graduate only earns $40,612 a year.

3. How much should I invest to become a millionaire?

To become a millionaire, you will need to invest different amounts depending on your life stage. Because you have more time to accumulate wealth and can tolerate more risk when you’re younger, you can afford to save less money or make riskier investments.

On the other hand, as you get older, you’ll need to set aside more money each month if you’re slow to save.

4. Can I get rich with zero dollars?

The chances of you getting rich doing nothing are slim. However, there are exceptions. These include that you come from a wealthy family, won the lottery, or are about to patent the next great invention. Or, you could jump at an opportunity like Graves.

While Graves’ story may sound like a Silicon Valley fairy tale, it’s not entirely unique. Adam Lyons, 25, the founder of car insurance company The Zebra, guessed Mark Cuban’s email address, emailed him and got a deal from the billionaire ‘Shark Tank’ star from ABC. Similarly, Elon Musk suggested that a Reddit user “should speak with Tesla” for an analysis he posted on his self-driving vehicle technology.

Generally, to reach your goal of becoming a millionaire, discipline, a plan and good advice from a professional are necessary.

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