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Uber VP, formerly COO of Lyft, stepping down

Email sent to employees says Travis VanderZanden is leaving to spend more time with family

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
September 30, 2016 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/476f

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Any ridesharing companies out there looking for a seasoned executive in their space?

Travis VanderZanden is stepping down from his position as Uber’s VP of Driver Growth, according to an email sent to Uber employees and first reported by Business Insider. I’ve reached out to Uber to confirm the news, and will update this piece when I hear back.

According to the email, VanderZanden is leaving his post at Uber to spend more time with his daughters and family. Of course, things are not always as they seem in Silicon Valley. Given how essential recruiting and retaining drivers is to powering the business model used by ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, it’s possible that Uber felt the need to step up its game. Still, there’s been no word of who (if anyone) would be filling in for VanderZanden.

Notably, VanderZanden first came to Uber in October 2014, shortly after he left his position as COO of Lyft. While it makes sense that Uber would see value in the man who formerly headed up operations at their main U.S. rival, the transition didn’t go very smoothly.

One month after Uber hired VanderZanden, Lyft sued him for allegedly stealing sensitive company documents just before his resignation. According to forensic forensic analysis of the laptop that VanderZanden used at Lyft, he had backed up several sensitive emails and documents to his personal computer and phone, including strategic plans, product offerings, marketing plans, forecasts, customer lists, financial information, and more.

A day after news of the lawsuit broke, VanderZanden denied the allegations in a tweet that has since been deleted: “Lyft’s PR has lost it, the allegations in their lawsuit are ridiculous. Just to be crystal clear, I did not take any confidential data to Uber.”

Appearing in California court in 2015, VanderZanden made the situation look even messier by claiming that his former employer had illegally snooped on his personal emails and discovered that he was in talks with Uber.

Instead of entrenching themselves deeper in the mud, Lyft and VanderZanden ended up settling out of court this past June. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

"Besides sharing a name, Travis and I have shared the same passion for creating the best experience for the millions of people who drive with Uber around the world," said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a statement shared with Business Insider. "And like the entrepreneur he is, over the last two years Travis has built a strong team relentlessly focused on just that. I thank him for being such a great partner and wish him all the best."

Here’s to hoping that VanderZanden’s next transition goes a bit more smoothly.

Ed. note: Our 6th Annual Vator Splash LA conference is coming up on October 13 at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Speakers include Mark Cuban (one of the hosts of Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks); Brian Lee (Founder & CEO, Honest Company); Leura Fine (Founder & CEO, Laurel & Wolf ); Nick Green (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Thrive Market); Tri Tran (CEO & Co-founder, Munchery); Adam Goldenberg (Founder & CEO, JustFab); Andre Haddad (CEO, Turo); Mike Jones (Founder, Science) and many more. Join us! REGISTER HERE.


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