Travis Kalanick, the former Uber CEO who was shown the door in June last year amid a series of major controversies, has already found his next leading role following his announcement of a new investment fund just weeks ago.
Kalanick said on Twitter that his fund would be investing $150 million to take a controlling interest in City Storage Systems, or CSS. He will also be running the company as CEO, according to Recode. It’s a holding company focused on redevelopment of distressed real estate. Kalanick resigned from Uber after facing a lawsuit with Waymo over trade secrets, an ongoing battle with existing shareholders Benchmark Capital, and the fallout from a harassment probe led by former attorney general Eric Holder. Uber brought on new CEO Dara Kosrowshahi in August last year.
Travis announced that he would be starting a new fund with his windfall from Uber shares sold in its most recent major secondary round. At the time, Kalanick said the new fund — called 10100, or “ten one hundred” — would be geared toward “large-scale job creation,” with investments in real estate, ecommerce, and “emerging innovation in India and China.” CSS has two businesses, CloudKitchens and CloudRetail, which focus on redevelopment of distressed assets in those two areas.
The former is pretty interesting given that Uber has its own food delivery service, UberEats. Should Kalanick’s new venture find ways to acquire distressed food-related real estate — kitchens around a city, for example — there may be a natural overlap with his experience at Uber as it started to explore food. Having massive operating kitchens located in one area with a delivery fleet associated with it is one thing, but having an array of smaller kitchens redeveloped through a company like CSS could provide a kind of distributed network that might make it easier to get food from one kitchen to its delivery in a shorter period of time.
It’s not that we know CSS is focusing on that explicitly, but Amazon also bought a bunch of buildings for $13.7 billion, and now it has a two-hour delivery service in major metropolitan areas. Of course, Travis was shown the door at Uber, so it remains to be seen how this one is going to play out. The Information notes that CSS was owned by a friend of Kalanick’s as well as having a loose connection with Uber.