Uber employee No. 1 is a billionaire, and he got the job thanks to a tweet

Ryan Graves, founder and CEO of Saltwater; Graves was formerly the CEO, and remains on the board of directors, of Uber.
Mark Neuling | CNBC

It would turn out to be a billion-dollar tweet.

On Jan 5, 2010, Ryan Graves sent a tweet to Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick suggesting himself as a potential hire for what was then a new start-up.

heres a tip. email me :) graves.ryan[at]

Graves, who was at the time working as a leader in a management training program in information technology at General Electric, got hired.

On March 1, 2010, he became the first employee at Uber thanks to that tweet.

"I was hitting Craigslist, Twitter, and other channels looking for the right candidate," Kalanick wrote in a 2010 blog post about Uber's early days. "What resulted was the Awesomest job post and response I've ever seen."

Now of course, Uber is a multibillion-dollar company. It was valued at more than $75 billion based on it's $45 a share IPO on Thursday, and shares were hovering between about $42 and $44 when it started trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday. The stock closed below $42 per share with a market cap of $69.7 billion.

Because of his equity in the company, Graves, 35, is a very rich man, worth more than $1 billion, according to Forbes.

Graves tweet of IPO

Kalanick (worth over $5 billion, according to Forbes) has said that Graves, "hit the ground running," at Uber after he was hired. "From the day he got going, we spent about 15-20 hours a week working together going over product, driver on-boarding, pricing model, the whole nine. He learned the startup game fast and worked his a-- off to build the Uber team and make the San Francisco launch and subsequent growth a huge success," Kalanick wrote in the 2010 blog post.

Graves' tenure at Uber included an almost year-long stint as the CEO and an almost seven-year run as the senior vice president of global operations.

Of course, Graves' time at Uber was not without controversy, and he announced his resignation from Uber in August 2017, two months after Kalanick was forced to resign when investigations into Uber's culture revealed sexual harassment and discrimination.

This New Yorker makes up to $540 a day driving for Uber, Juno and Lyft
This New Yorker makes up to $540 a day driving for Uber, Juno and Lyft

"We should have taken more time to reflect on our mistakes and make changes together," Graves said in an email sent to Uber staff at the time. "There always seemed to be another goal, another target, another business or city to launch. Confucius said that reflection is the noblest method to learn wisdom, and fortunately, our new found reflection and introspection has become an asset to us and we have evolved and grown considerably."

Graves still sits on Uber's board of directors. He now lives with his family in Hawaii, according to Forbes, and is running the investment firm he founded, Saltwater. Saltwater's portfolio includes independent San Francisco beer company Fort Point beer, cannabis company Caliva and women's health and fertility services company Kindbody.

Though Graves' money tweet may sound like a Silicon Valley fairy tale, it's not entirely unique. Adam Lyons was the 25-year-old founder of car-insurance start-up The Zebra when he guessed Mark Cuban's email address, shot him a note and ended up getting an investment from the billionaire star of ABC's "Shark Tank." And Elon Musk recently suggested a Reddit user "should interview at Tesla" for the analysis he posted of his Tesla's self-driving car technology.

And it's not just Silicon Valley: Hafthor Bjornsson who stars as "The Mountain" on HBO's "Game of Thrones," got an audition for the role via an unsolicited Facebook Messenger message.

See also:

Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio to younger self: 'Why are you so stupidly arrogant!?!'

Pinterest's employee No. 2 left before his equity vested—here's what he says of the decision that cost him millions

Google execs reveal secrets to success they got from Silicon Valley's 'trillion dollar' business coach

NYU business school professor: People think they know what makes them happy–here's what really does
NYU business school professor: People think they know what makes them happy

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook