Emil G. Michael
|Education||Harvard University (B.A.)|
Stanford Law School (J.D.)
|Known for||Executive at Uber|
Emil G. Michael (Arabic: إيميل مايكل ; born September 19, 1972) is an Egyptian-born American businessman. Michael was the Senior Vice President of Business and Chief Business Officer at Uber, and the Chief Operating Officer of Klout.
Early life and education
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Michael is a Coptic Christian who moved to the United States with his family in the early 1970s. Michael received his B.A. in Government cum laude from Harvard University, where he wrote for the Harvard Crimson and served as president of the Harvard Republican Club. During his presidency, the club changed its name to the Harvard-Radcliffe Republican Club in an effort to reach out to potential female members. He received his J.D. degree with honors from Stanford Law School.
After law school, Michael served as an Associate in the Communications, Media and Entertainment Investment Banking Group at Goldman Sachs in New York. He also worked on merger and hostile takeover advisory projects and equity and bank debt financing. He left Goldman Sachs in 1999.
Michael was an executive at internet-telephony startup Tellme Networks for nine years, from June 1999 until 2008. Tellme was a forerunner of speech recognition technology. The company was sold to Microsoft for approximately $800 million in 2007.
Department of Defense
Michael was selected as one of 15 White House Fellows during the first year of the Obama administration, where he served as a Special Assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates from 2009 until 2011. Michael has stated that he spent time on assignment in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other destinations.
In July 2012, he became Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Klout. He held the COO title until September 2013 when he left to join Uber. Klout was sold to Lithium for approximately $200 million in early 2014.
Michael joined Uber as Senior Vice President of Business in September 2013. He acted as CEO Travis Kalanick's right-hand-man, helping the company raise nearly $15 billion dollars from key investors worldwide. By February 2018, Uber became the world's most valued private technology company and had raised the most money of any private start-up in history.
Michael was a key player in the development of Uber's ride-sharing efforts in China, taking an investment of $2 billion to a value of $7 billion in 2016. He also worked on creating new partnerships with Chinese companies such as Baidu. Michael led the merger of Uber's China operations with that of the local competitor Didi Chuxing in August 2016, which observers estimate could be worth $28 billion when Didi Chuxing has a public offering.
In 2017, Michael helped negotiate a deal with Yandex, the largest technology firm and most popular internet search engine in Russia, known as the "Google of Russia," in which Uber owned 36.6 percent of a joint ride-sharing entity in Russia. Uber invested $225 million, and Yandex invested $100 million.
Vetted for cabinet post
In August 2019, it was revealed that the Trump administration considered Michael for the job of Secretary of Transportation at the time that Trump was forming his government, in early 2016. The job ended up going to Elaine Chao.
While at Uber, Michael became embroiled in a controversy over the company's relationship with journalists. In November 2014, in a personal conversation that Michael believed was "off the record" with Ben Smith of BuzzFeed, Michael asked Smith why it is OK for Journalists to report false stories or attack the personal lives of business people. Michael then suggested hypothetically that Uber could hire a team of opposition researchers and journalists, equipped with a million-dollar budget, to dig into similar areas who reported about Uber. He specifically mentioned an article appearing in Pando Daily written by Sarah Lacy whom Michael had never met nor spoken to. Uber's Chief Executive Officer, Travis Kalanick, made a series of apologetic tweets claiming Emil Michael's comments did not represent the company's views. The controversy made national news and stirred criticism against Uber. Michael apologized for his words with days.
Karaoke bar controversy
In 2014, several local Uber employees in Seoul, South Korea, invited Michael with them to visit a "hostess-karaoke bar" during a business trip. Four of the other men in the group picked hostesses out of a lineup, and then went to the bar to sing Karaoke. One of the female Uber managers in the group felt uncomfortable during this encounter and reported the event to HR at Uber about one year later. Although the issue had already been resolved, the story came out in March 2017 when Michael contacted Gabi Holzwarth, CEO Kalanick's ex-girlfriend, who had also been in the group at the Karaoke bar, to warn her about an upcoming article in the press. Holzwarth claims that Michael asked her to keep the visit to the hostess bar quiet, among other accusations, in the year after her relationship with Mr. Kalanick ended in 2016. Michael has expressed remorse and apologized for "attending and failing to prevent" the visit to the bar.
In June 2017, Michael left his position at Uber after 4 years at the company.
Non-profit board memberships
In 2014, Michael, and eight others, were appointed to the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board. The eight joined 15 members already sitting on the board, which was created in 2002 to provide independent advice on the private sector. Michael was the only one of the new appointees to have experience with startups.
Michael has invested and/or advised in the following startups:
- Cepi Style
Michael married his longtime girlfriend, Julie Herrin, in a ceremony in Miami, Florida, in early 2018. The couple met in 2012 in Las Vegas, NV.
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