Eight years ago, Travis Kalanick launched a startup called UberCab in San Francisco.
Today, Uber is a global behemoth and one of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies — and one of the most contentious.
Uber operates in around 600 cities worldwide, and it’s said to be worth nearly $US70 billion.
The 40-year-old Kalanick is now said to have a net worth of more than $US6 billion.
But Uber — and Kalanick — have been caught up in one scandal after another in recent months, leading to a four-month investigation, more than 20 firings, and finally, Kalanick’s resignation from the company he created.
Here’s how it all began.
Maya Kosoff contributed to an earlier version of this post.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick grew up in Northridge, California -- a suburb outside Los Angeles. When he was a kid, he wanted to be a spy.
Kalanick got good grades and was athletic growing up, running track and playing football. But he was bullied by older students, and later vowed that he'd never be pushed around by anyone again.
Kalanick would eventually follow in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his mum, a retail advertiser: He went door-to-door as a teen, selling knives for Cutco. He then started his first business at 18, an SAT-prep course called New Way Academy.
Kalanick went to UCLA to study computer engineering. He would drop out in 1998, but with good reason...
After being sued by several entertainment companies to the tune of $250 billion, Scour filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Kalanick rebounded with Red Swoosh, a networking-software company. But he clashed with his new cofounder, Scour cofounder Michael Todd. Between the post-9/11 stock market crash, the company's pushing of legal boundaries by reinvesting its employees' income taxes back into the startup, and a final falling-out between the cofounders, Red Swoosh almost never made it to exit.
But things improved. Kalanick moved back into his parents house and raised more funding. In 2007, Kalanick sold Red Swoosh to Akamai for $23 million and became a millionaire.
Kalanick spent his first year as a millionaire travelling around the world. He went to Spain, Japan, Greece, Iceland, Greenland, Hawaii (twice), France (twice), Australia, Portugal, Cape Verde, and Senegal.
While attending the LeWeb technology conference in late 2008, Kalanick first heard the idea for Uber. He envisioned it as a way to lower the cost of black-car service at the touch of a button.
But Kalanick's dislike of taxis stemmed from a bad experience in a cab years earlier: He got into an argument with a taxi driver and jumped out of the moving car.
Garrett Camp, Oscar Salazar, and Conrad Whelan built the first version of Uber, a black-car service called UberCab. Kalanick served as a 'mega adviser,' though he's previously said his title then was 'chief incubator.' With UberCab, which cost about 1.5 times as much as a cab, you could request a car in San Francisco by sending a text or pressing a button.
UberCab launched in June 2010 in San Francisco. It was a huge hit there, though investors weren't initially knocking down Uber's door to invest...
In December 2010, Kalanick became CEO and Graves became Uber's general manager again. According to both, the rearrangement was friendly.
In December 2011, Uber went international and launched in Paris, its first non-US city. Uber now operates around 600 cities worldwide.
Uber is currently valued at $69 billion, making it the most valuable privately-held tech company in the world.
In early 2015, Uber announced plans to start testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. The project has since expanded and Uber now tests its self-driving cars in San Francisco and Arizona. It's a project that Kalanick is particularly passionate about -- he believes the future of Uber depends on it.
'If we are not tied for first, then the person who is in first, or the entity that's in first, then rolls out a ride-sharing network that is far cheaper or far higher-quality than Uber's, then Uber is no longer a thing,' Kalanick told Business Insider in August 2016.