Technologic

Uber’s chief product officer Jeff Holden, who led the company’s flying car effort, has stepped down

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Holden joined Uber from Groupon in 2014.

Uber’s chief product officer, Jeff Holden, has stepped down, the company confirmed to Recode. Holden, who joined the company from Groupon in 2014, is pursuing another opportunity — details are scant.

Holden most recently led the company’s flying car effort, called Elevate, which makes his departure untimely. Just last week, Uber hosted its second annual flying car summit, where the project got a big boost from the company’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi.

At the summit, the company also came up against some of the realities of the hurdles — technological and regulatory — that Uber would face in attempting to get Elevate off the ground. Holden himself brought the regulatory issues to light in his onstage conversations with Dan Elwell, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Elevate is not without a leader, however. In fact, the company hired someone to formally lead the effort under Holden. In March, Uber poached the CEO of flying car company Zee Aero, Eric Allison, who will continue to lead the Elevate team.

“As demonstrated by last week’s Uber Elevate Summit, we’re incredibly bullish on the future of aerial ride-sharing,” an Uber spokesperson said. “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.”

Though Holden’s title of chief product officer was certainly lofty, he did little to run the day-to-day operations in his last few years at the company. The responsibilities of running product mostly fell to then-VP of product Daniel Graf, and now to Graf’s former deputy, Manik Gupta, who is running product as the interim head. Graf left the company in March 2018, after about three years.

Holden, who was known to many internally as an ally to ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, led a number of different future-looking projects at the company. Before flying cars, he was helping to lead the self-driving effort. Several sources inside the company described him as a “visionary,” but said he had a harder time managing people.

Holden also notoriously helped Kalanick come up with some of the company’s more controversial corporate values — which have since been revamped under Khosrowshahi — such as “always be hustlin’,” “principled confrontation” and “toe-stepping.”

He was also one of the few holdouts left at Uber who was considered part of Kalanick’s inner circle.

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