Jeff Holden, Uber chief product officer, speaks at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit, on May 8, 2018 at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, California. Uber introduced it's electric powered "flying taxi" vertical take-off and landing concept aircraft at the event, which showcases prototypes for UberAir's fleet of airborne taxis. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Jeff Holden of Uber at the recent Elevate Summit in LA © AFP

Uber’s chief product officer, who has been leading its recent push to develop flying taxis, is leaving the company.

Jeff Holden, who joined the car-booking company in 2014, was one of the last remaining executives closely associated with founder Travis Kalanick. When Mr Kalanick was forced out as chief executive last year following a series of crises, Mr Holden was one of 14 people tapped to run the company on an interim basis. Half of those people have now departed.

He helped launch UberPool, the company’s ride-sharing service, in 2015. He also co-wrote, with Mr Kalanick, Uber’s 14 “cultural values”, including “stepping on toes” and “always be hustlin’”, which a report into the company’s management and culture said had been used to justify poor behaviour.

Under Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as chief executive last year, the company has rolled out a new set of “cultural norms”, including “We do the right thing. Period.”

Although his title was chief product officer, at the time of his departure, Mr Holden did not have oversight of Uber’s core businesses — its car-booking app, driver app or Uber Eats food delivery service.

He was focused on Elevate, its division dedicated to short-range electric aircraft, and was a visible presence last week at the Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles, where the company laid out an aggressive timetable to begin testing “on-demand aviation” in two years.

Uber said Mr Holden’s departure did not signal anything about Uber’s ambitions in aviation.

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

Uber recently hired Mr Allison as head of Elevate from a flying car start-up backed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google.

Before joining Uber, Mr Holden served as chief product officer at Groupon and spent nearly a decade at Amazon, where he helped develop the Prime membership programme.

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