Meet Austin Geidt, the Uber exec whose life is the stuff of Silicon Valley legend, who joined the company as an intern in 2010, got sober at age 20, and just rang the company's IPO bell

Uber bell Austin GeidtAustin GeidtReuters / Brendan McDermid

"To all you interns, keep ya heads up," Austin Geidt tweeted on her five-year anniversary of working at Uber in 2015.

It's advice that's paid off for Geidt. She joined Uber as an intern in 2010 - and on Friday, she got to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the company's public debut.

Now the head of strategy for Uber's Advanced Technologies Group, the company's autonomous vehicle unit, Geidt had the honor of the ceremonial role, standing beside CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Read More: Meet the 7 VC investors getting rich off of this year's parade of 'unicorn' IPOs

Geidt's rise is that of Silicon Valley legend. She was the fourth employee at Uber and has filled several roles during her time with the company. She's been open about her battle with drug addiction and recovery, and has been sober since she was 20.

Here's how the former intern cold-emailed her way into one of the biggest startups in Silicon Valley as told in a Fortune interview from 2015, except where otherwise noted. 

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Austin Geidt’s journey to Wall Street wasn’t easy or predictable. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 2010 amid an uncertain job market following the 2008 recession when she was 25 years old.

Austin Geidt’s journey to Wall Street wasn’t easy or predictable. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 2010 amid an uncertain job market following the 2008 recession when she was 25 years old.

Geidt has been open about her struggles with drug addiction and her time in rehab when she was 19. "I had a drug addiction. I got sober. I'm 10 years sober," she said in 2015. "I was in a really dark place."

Geidt has been open about her struggles with drug addiction and her time in rehab when she was 19. "I had a drug addiction. I got sober. I'm 10 years sober," she said in 2015. "I was in a really dark place."

In the uncertain aftermath of the 2008 Recession, Geidt responded to a tweet looking for interns from a new startup — Uber.

Geidt told the audience of Fortune's Most Powerful Women conference in 2015 that her resume for Uber was effectively blank with little applicable experience to speak of. Jobs and internships were still hard to come by, and she wasn't having much luck in the market.

Happy five-year to the whole @Uber family! And to all you interns, keep ya heads up :) http://t.co/xSKbPdlkl9 pic.twitter.com/cx74g65ARu

— Austin Geidt (@austingeidt) June 3, 2015

She cold-emailed Ryan Graves, Uber’s CEO at the time, asking for the job.

She cold-emailed Ryan Graves, Uber’s CEO at the time, asking for the job.

Graves was Uber's first employee and held the CEO role before founder Travis Kalanick. He told Geidt to create a presentation about herself, which she eagerly took on.

The deck was full of humor and pleas for Graves to give her a shot, she told Most Powerful Women. She hadn't had any luck in the job market and needed to take a risk with Uber.

She joined Uber as its fourth employee and first intern in 2010. As is the case with many early-stage companies, Geidt's role wasn't clearly defined and included everything from handing out flyers to cold-calling potential drivers. As the company grew, Geidt's role continued to change to fit the company's needs.

She joined Uber as its fourth employee and first intern in 2010. As is the case with many early-stage companies, Geidt's role wasn't clearly defined and included everything from handing out flyers to cold-calling potential drivers. As the company grew, Geidt's role continued to change to fit the company's needs.

Within five years, Uber had come to dominate the Silicon Valley startup scene. By 2015, it was valued at as much as $50 billion, with a who's who of investors on board. We don't know how much equity she owns in the company, but it's likely sizable.

Within five years, Uber had come to dominate the Silicon Valley startup scene. By 2015, it was valued at as much as $50 billion, with a who's who of investors on board. We don't know how much equity she owns in the company, but it's likely sizable.

Source: Business Insider

Part of her evolving role included overseeing Uber’s expansion into international markets. As the company grew, so did Geidt's role. By 2015, she ran the team that expanded Uber into new international markets, such as Australia.

Part of her evolving role included overseeing Uber’s expansion into international markets. As the company grew, so did Geidt's role. By 2015, she ran the team that expanded Uber into new international markets, such as Australia.

Geidt says she developed skills during her time in rehab to help cope with the realities of working for such a fast-growing company.

In her Most Powerful Women presentation, she said that her time in rehab taught her to be honest and direct, to turn feelings of being overwhelmed into small, manageable steps, and to have a "sense of humility" rather than "feeling self-important," she said.

Rager to celebrate @Uber_Honolulu launch! #UberAloha #twerking cc/@Uber pic.twitter.com/oxionEuybn

— Austin Geidt (@austingeidt) August 16, 2013

She has been in her current role leading strategy for Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group since 2016, overseeing much of the company's push into self-driving cars.

She has been in her current role leading strategy for Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group since 2016, overseeing much of the company's push into self-driving cars.

The role oversees operations and development for Uber's self-driving car unit. Her role at the company has propelled her into being one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley, and she was featured at Fortune's Most Powerful Women in 2015 to discuss her unusual journey.

Geidt also said that, even though she “lives and breathes Uber,” there's more to her life. "I'm so proud of the work my team has done at Uber and of the work I've done at Uber. But it's not the proudest thing I've done, right? I'm more proud of being sober," she said in 2015. "I just have perspective."

Bonding about the pain of hyper growth with @mikkelsvane from @zendesk #FortuneTech pic.twitter.com/9bH3lmCPew

— Austin Geidt (@austingeidt) July 14, 2015

Once described as an “overdressed” intern, Geidt has remained a constant force as the company went through growing pains and leadership changes. Originally hired by Graves, Geidt has seen Uber through three CEOs, including current chief executive Khosrowshahi.

Source: Business Insider

Really fun to spend some time with the young women from @Girlswhocode! Those are girls to keep an eye on. pic.twitter.com/V0mRZc3mJ1

— Austin Geidt (@austingeidt) July 14, 2015

On Friday, Geidt was awarded the honor of ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on the day of Uber’s IPO. After nine years with Uber, it's clear that she's considered key to the company's success.

On Friday, Geidt was awarded the honor of ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on the day of Uber’s IPO. After nine years with Uber, it's clear that she's considered key to the company's success.

Source: Business Insider

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