Nikhil Goel, one of the Co-Founders of Uber Elevate and who also co-authored its White Paper, has announced he is leaving the firm.

Posting the news on social media, Goel thanked a whole host of colleagues while hinting at what his next steps could be after taking a much-needed break.

He said: “I could have never predicted the incredible journey that would follow after Jeff Holden, Mark Moore, and I first pressed publish on the Elevate White Paper in 2016. I am deeply proud to have been part of the journey since and continue to remain humbled as I watch entrepreneurs across the UAM industry go on to finally bring the ever-elusive flying car to reality in this decade.

“From hosting three Elevate Summits to sharing our Elevate vision with leaders and partners around the world, I’m incredibly proud of everything our extended team was able to accomplish while remaining scrappy, indefatigable, and relentlessly focused on improving the fabric of transportation across and between cities globally.

“It’s been the absolute honour of my career to learn alongside each of you over the years, and I’m very fortunate to carry these lifelong friendships with me as I continue to root for Uber, the Elevate team, and urban air mobility from the sidelines. I absolutely cannot wait to take my first ride in an eVTOL over the Bay Area traffic!”

Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, Goel’s first job was at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he worked on the Ares I rocket, and his second was helping develop missile systems for the US Army with a major defense contractor.

Before Uber, Nikhil served as a management consultant for travel and consumer technology companies at McKinsey & Company, and he held Product roles at YouTube, Xbox, and Microsoft Office before founding two online marketplace startups.

But he always dreamt of helping to create the future of the Jetsons, where flying cars would one day replace the need for millions around the world to be stuck in hours of daily traffic.

In 2016, after helping lead Uber’s emerging markets team to major wins across India and China, Nikhil co-founded the company’s Elevate division, authoring the world’s first white paper on aerial ridesharing.

He worked with NASA and Uber executives to establish the vision for Uber Air — a global network of all-electric, urban air taxis that could zip people and packages from one neighbourhood to the other in minutes on-demand and, in the process, help transform cities into smarter, better, more efficient places to live. 

And while Goel has not announced publicly what his next project will be, he has said he’ll be staying close to the industry.

“First and foremost, a break — I’ve already started to enjoy some much-needed time off since I stepped down to recharge and prepare to take on the next chapter of my career,” he said.

“I’ll never lose my drive to help make cities smarter, better, more efficient places to live. I’ve already started advising and investing in some of the most incredible entrepreneurs in the urban mobility space, and I’m excited to partner with them as they build and scale world-class products globally.”

Today, the Uber Elevate team has grown to more than 100 people across six offices and is now led by Eric Allison.

It plans to launch its aerial ride-sharing service in three cities by 2023 – Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne – and believes its platform will provide universal access to every type of transportation through improved mobility options, creating a future where the need for individual car ownership goes down over time.

Uber has already signed strategic partnerships with aircraft OEMs and real estate firms, such as Boeing, Joby Aviation, Embraer and Hillwood, and announced yesterday (Wednesday) that GE Aviation’s Digital Group has also joined the ecosystem.

The company will develop develop requirements for a flight data monitoring programme to support eVTOL aircraft on the Uber platform.