What role will Travis Kalanick play on Uber’s IPO day (and just how rich might he become)?

The New York Times’ Mike Isaac offers this fascinating glimpse at life-after-Travis Kalanick at Uber, dubbing Dara Khosrowshahi, the replacement CEO, as the “best compensated janitor in Silicon Valley”.

Kalanick may no longer be running things, but they can’t take away his legacy as co-founder of the “most valuable start-up in the world”. Isaac reports that Kalanick wanted to be part of the photo opp for Uber’s IPO moment: the ringing of the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

He also wanted to bring his father, Donald Kalanick. It would be close to the second anniversary of the accidental death of Travis Kalanick’s mother, and of the dramatic boardroom coup that ousted him as boss. His presence on the exchange’s iconic balcony could make both Mr. Kalanick and the corporation appear resilient.

Mr. Khosrowshahi wasn’t having it. The original plan was to fill the rafters with Uber’s earliest employees and longest tenured drivers. 

Isaac goes on to say that Kalanick will be there, but on the trading floor. I guess we’ll have to see how much of a media presence Kalanick will drum up for himself on the day.

Beyond optics, Khosrowshahi has a bigger problem to wrestle with before the big day: convincing investors that Uber is a worthwhile bet. Lyft’s stuttering start as a public company might have prospective investors feeling unnerved – the firm began trading at a value of $21bn, but is now worth $18bn.

According to a report in The Information, Uber’s roadshow (where execs try to get investors onboard with pre-IPO stock deals) is making big promises:

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and CFO Nelson Chai have told investors attending the company’s IPO road show presentations that they expect the company to one day earn a profit margin of 25%, before the impact of interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization after “competitive pressures” subside, according to two people attending presentations and a video shown to prospective investors. That’s a far cry from where things stand today: Uber had a negative margin of 31.4% in the first quarter.

The company is expected to have a value of $91bn as it begins trading. If that’s the case, the New York Times estimates, Kalanick’s share of Uber will be worth $5.9bn. I think he’ll get over not getting to ring the bell.