Travis Kalanick, the American entrepreneur behind the industry-disrupting Uber, was surreptitiously removed from the venture. However, Uber’s 2109 IPO made him a multibillionaire – a wealth that continues to grow alongside his other profitable businesses. In 2024, Travis Kalanick’s net worth is estimated at $4.5 billion.

At one point, Kalanick was the chief executive officer of Uber, but this wasn’t his first successful business. Even after he resigned from Uber in 2017, he remained a major shareholder and it is his stock that has made him one of the wealthiest people worldwide.

Let’s see how Uber’s founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick built his fortune, developed his career, and got back on his feet with a new successful business under his leadership.

Travis Kalanick’s Net Worth Breakdown:

Travis Kalanick is no longer part of Uber, and he sold a huge chunk, if not all, of his Uber stake since his departure from the company. This, as well as details of his assets and major investments, give us a clear picture of what his net worth looks like. We’ve pieced together a net worth breakdown of his assets and earnings, which you can see below:

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Red Swoosh sale $2 million
Uber share sale to Softbank $1.4 billion
Uber share sale at IPO $170 million
Uber share sale, December 2019 $2.5 billion
Uber shares Undisclosed
City Storage Systems stake $150 million
CloudKitchens stake $80+ million
Real Estate $80 million
Total Net Worth $4.5 billion

Travis Kalanick Net Worth: Early Life and Education

Travis Cordell Kalanick was born in Los Angeles on August 6, 1976, to mother Bonnie Renee Horowitz Kalanick, who worked in retail advertising for the Los Angeles Daily News, and father Donald Edward Kalanick, a civil engineer.

Kalanick came from a Slovak-Austrian family with his paternal grandparents immigrating to the United States from Graz. His mother comes from a Viennese Jewish family who immigrated to the US in the 20th century. He has two half-sisters and one brother.

He studied at the Granada Hills Charter High School. While in high school, he worked selling knives door-to-door for Cutco, a direct sales company. Later on, he started a test preparation company called New Way Academy with his classmate’s father. His first business provided SAT tutoring services to help students ace the tests.

travis kalanick high school
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Even though he enrolled in university, Kalanick didn’t graduate. In 1988, he dropped out of school to work full-time at Scour.

Travis Kalanick Net Worth: From College Dropout to Billionaire

Travis Kalanick dropped out of school to work full-time for the company he started working at, handling sales and marketing. However, this wasn’t his biggest professional success – not even close. Soon after, he founded a new business, sold it, and eventually founded Uber, the business that made him a billionaire. Let’s see how his story progressed.

Scour

In 1988, Kalanick and his peers Michael Todd and Vince Busam all dropped out of UCLA to work with Dan Rodrigues on Scour Inc. Scour was a multimedia search engine, while Scour Exchange, another branch of the business, was a peer-to-peer file-sharing service.

Kalanick was highly involved in the business, handling marketing and sales, and was reportedly one of the brand’s co-founders. However, while he claimed to have co-founded Scour Exchange, this was never exactly cleared up, and many relevant sources don’t mention him in the list of founders.

travis kalanick early business card
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Following several successful months and unexpected growth, the company was strapped for cash and started looking for funding from venture capitalist investors like Michael Ovitz and Ronald Burkle. However, the negotiations didn’t end up as Scour Inc. expected, with Ovitz suing the company for breach of contract. Eventually, Scour was forced to accept poor investment terms, giving Ovitz majority control over the business.

Fast forward to 2000, and Scour was subject to a $250 billion lawsuit alleging copyright infringement. The business was sued by the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Music Publishers Association, and the Recording Industry Association of America, eventually causing Scour to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September the same year.

Red Swoosh

Following the bankruptcy of his first venture, Kalanick was ready for a new challenge. In 2001, he started another peer-to-peer file-sharing company with Michael Todd, called Red Swoosh. He referred to this business as his “revenge business” against the RIAA and MPAA for the lawsuit that killed his first company.

The idea behind Red Swoosh was for media companies to pay the business to provide legitimate copies of media files to customers. The company worked on a technology that allowed for the transfer of large files and made it speedy and efficient.

In the beginning, Red Swoosh struggled to get off the ground. It had minimal cash flow and in August 2001, some of the employees had gone months without receiving a paycheck. Initially, Kalanick was having tremendous difficulty securing funding for the business, especially since he launched it right after the dot-com bubble burst.

These challenging beginnings created problems and plenty of tension between the two partners, leading Michael Todd to leave the company. For starters, Red Swoosh used $110,000 from its payroll taxes to cover the business’ daily expenses, and there was a major disagreement about who made this poor decision. Kalanick accused his partner of doing it alone as per Business Insider, but in 2017, The New York Times reported that they both agreed on it.

Even though the partners eventually got more funding and were able to repay the IRS, this tension destroyed their professional relationship, after which Kalanick accused Todd of trying to get a job offer for himself and others without telling him.

Following his partner’s departure, things were hard financially for Kalanick. He reportedly went without a salary at his business for at least three years, meaning he had to move back with his parents to save money but didn’t like it because this “prevented him from meeting women.”

By 2002, Red Swoosh was seriously struggling with one of its founders gone and only two employees left to work in it, Kalanick and the former Scour engineer Evan Tsang. Three years later, Todd helped Tsang land a job at Google, causing even more public tension between the former partners.

Eventually, things started turning around for Kalanick and his business. He met Mark Cuban, the billionaire American investor and star of Shark Tank, during an exchange on an internet forum, and convinced him to invest $1.8 million into the company, as well as help him land more investments from his contacts.

This change allowed Kalanick to hire more people, and in 2007, Red Swoosh was acquired by Akamai Technologies. Some sources share that the business sold for $15 million, while others report a higher number of $23 million.

Kalanick reportedly made $2 million on the deal after taxation.

Investments after Red Swoosh

When he sold Red Swoosh to Akamai Technologies, Travis Kalanick was a millionaire. He almost immediately moved to San Francisco but decided to take a year off and traveled to Spain, Greece, Japan, Hawaii, and several other locations.

During his break from business, Kalanick lived a lavish life. For instance, he and his friends spent $800 for a private driver in a single night on New Year’s day, which is what inspired him to create Uber. He wanted to build a more economical cab service.

In this period, Kalanick used his millions to make small investments in different startups such as Livefyre, Formspring, Expensify, and Crowdflower, as described in Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac.

The Founding of Uber

In 2009, Travis Kalanick was ready for a new venture. This was when he co-founded the ride-hailing company called Uber with Garrett Camp, a Canadian entrepreneur who also founded StumbleUpon.

While in San Francisco, Camp and Kalanick were frustrated with inconvenient and expensive black car services, and they developed the concept of a smartphone application that could hail vehicles from the user’s phone. The partners discussed the concept and created the business that was initially called UberCab.

In the beginning, neither of the partners wanted to run the company directly, so they employed Ryan Graves in the position of chief executive officer, which he remained for ten months before Kalanick announced that he’d be taking over the CEO role.

travis kalanick uber
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Since he decided to become the CEO of Uber, Camp and Graves signed over an undisclosed portion of their shares to Kalanick, giving him more control over the business.

Uber’s success transformed CEO Travis Kalanick into one of the most controversial yet successful leaders of tech startups in the world.

Growth of Uber

In 2010, UberCab was already in a big trouble. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency served the new business with a cease and desist order since they believed UberCab was in breach of regulations in the city.

However, Kalanick directed his employees to ignore this order and keep operating in the same way. He quickly changed the company’s name to Uber, since UberCab was a misleading name, suggesting that it was a taxi company.

ubercab advertising
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A year later, Kalanick met Bill Gurley, an investor who worked at Benchmark, a successful venture capital firm, and got a $11 million investment in return for 20% of Uber in the Series A round of funding. At this point, Uber was valued at $50 million.

Later that same year, Uber had its Series B round and raised an additional $32 million from investors including Jeff Bezos and Goldman Sachs, among others. In 2013, Kalanick obtained the biggest investment so far – $250 million from Google Ventures – at a point when Uber was valued at $3.5 billion.

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Kalanick’s Departure from Uber

Even though the company was growing at a rapid pace, attracting major investors, and earning millions, Kalanick’s reputation as CEO was beginning to suffer. He was perceived as a ruthless tyrant who was harsh with everyone, even the drivers that formed the foundation of the business. The company’s culture was suffering as well, with employees expected to work extra hours without compensation and conference calls taking place at any moment, even at night.

Not only did Kalanick have a strong hold over the employees, but he also controlled the company’s board of directors. At one point, he reportedly told Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, that he structured the board by hand-picking the members which would allow him all the freedom he wanted, Isaac notes in his book.

In 2016, Kalanick joined several CEOs as an economic advisor for the council called Strategic and Policy Forum, on behalf of then-President Donald Trump. Following continued pressure, Travis Kalanick announced to Uber employees in an email that he was stepping down from Trump’s advisory council.

His leadership led to a barrage of controversies. In 2017, Businessweek published a video of Uber founder Kalanick berating one of the drivers, causing even bigger public tension. That same year, reports emerged that Kalanick avoided sexual harassment allegations at Uber, and that the HR department did nothing.

The pressure didn’t cease. In June 2017, the final report of an independent investigation into sexual harassment issues at Uber was presented to the company’s board and top management. The report was scathing and included hundreds of pages with recommendations that Kalanick left Uber.

This was the final straw, causing the board members and the company to force Travis Kalanick to resign from his position as CEO, while still retaining his massive stake in the company.

Even though Kalanick resigned as CEO, he retained his seat on the company’s board of directors and continued to interfere with the company’s operations. However, the executive leadership at the business threatened to quit en masse, so his access to the company’s servers was stripped altogether.

The current CEO of Uber is Dara Khosrowshahi.

Uber Shares

In May 2019, Uber had its IPO, valued at $77 billion. At this point, Kalanick’s shares at the company were worth over $4 billion in addition to the 3.7 million shares he sold at the IPO, generating $170 million in cash. Almost right after Travis left Uber, he sold 30% of his Uber shares worth $1.4 billion to Japanese tech giant SoftBank, owned by the investing genius Masayoshi Son.

On December 24, 2019, Kalanick resigned from the board effective December 31 and sold off more than $2.5 billion of his Uber stock i.e. 90% of his shares.

If he had waited until December 2020 to sell his 90% of Uber stock, he would have gotten nearly double this amount, seeing how the stock’s price topped $54 at this point compared to $27-$30 at the time of the sale.

travis kalanick leaves uber nty
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Media Depictions

In February 2022, the Showtime series called Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber premiered, sharing the story of Uber and its founder. In the series, Travis Kalanick is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Even though the Showtime series is about him, Kalanick declined to participate in it. Instead, the series is based on Mike Isaac’s book of the same name, as well as some interviews with different sources.

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Travis Kalanick Net Worth: Other Investments and Assets

Kalanick’s entrepreneurial career was far from over after he left Uber. Right after his departure, he was cash-poor, but once he had sold most or even all of his Uber stock, he had more than enough money to retire. However, he decided to remain in the business world, forming a new company in 2018.

In addition to his business investments, Kalanick has also invested a fortune in real estate.

10100

Kalanick’s new business was a venture fund called 10100, pronounced ten-one-hundred, which focused on investments in real estate and ecommerce in India, China, and other markets.

In the same year he opened his venture fund, he announced that the fund invested $150 million in City Storage Systems, a company focused on distressed real estate assets and their redevelopment. This investment made him a major shareholder in the business and consequently, he became the CEO of City Storage Systems.

The brand now operates a ghost kitchen startup called CloudKitchens, a business that was valued at $15 billion in 2021. CloudKitchens took a controlling interest in FoodStars, a UK-based business in 2018, and Kalanick reportedly invested $300 million from his personal net worth into the startup.

The following year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia completed a contract with CloudKitchens and had invested $400 million in the business.

Real Estate

In 2019, Kalanick acquired a penthouse in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The swanky real estate is complete with a pool and rooftop deck and was the most expensive home sold in New York in August of that year. He spent $36.5 million on this property.

travis kalanick 565 broome street
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A year later, he bought a Los Angeles mansion in the Bel Air neighborhood worth $43.3 million.

He reportedly also owns a townhouse in the upper hills of the Castro District in San Francisco, often nicknamed ‘the Jam Pad’. We don’t know its exact value.

Other Assets

After Kalanick left Uber’s board and the company altogether, he hasn’t lived his life as much in the public spotlight. He spent some time on a friend’s vessel in Tahiti and has since spent most of his time in New York and Los Angeles.

As for his other assets, he owns a 1999 BMW M3 which he bought back when it was released for around $45,000.

What Can We Learn from Travis Kalanick’s Story?

The story of the Uber founder is one of ambition and resilience is full of important lessons, especially about challenging times and the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Throughout his career, Kalanick has made many errors, such as his bad deals with the investors in Scour, which cost him control of the business – and his job. Having learned from his errors, he seems to have been much smarter when it came to Red Swoosh and its investors. Set at the helm of the business, he didn’t give investors much control or freedom over his venture. This teaches us the importance of learning from one’s mistakes to improve and succeed even more, as well as to keep going despite challenges and failures.

Kalanick’s journey from a college dropout to a billionaire was marked by determination and persistence. Despite facing failures in his earlier ventures, he never gave up and continued to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions. He demonstrated the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. From founding Scour to starting Uber, he recognized market opportunities and adjusted his strategies accordingly.

Even though his leadership of Uber was marred by controversies and public scrutiny, the company’s success can be attributed to his idea and vision for disrupting the traditional transportation industry and using technology to offer a more convenient service.

However, his being forced out of his own business teaches us an important lesson, too. We can see that it’s important how you treat your employees and how you navigate media attention and address criticism, which is key to maintaining a good reputation and credibility.