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emfizz.com August 19, 2017


Uber investor sues former CEO Kalanick for fraud

13 August 2017, 06:19 | Patty Hardy

Uber shareholders call on Benchmark Capital to step down from board after its lawsuit against former boss Travis Kalanick

Uber shareholders revolt against venture firm after surprise lawsuit

But while he is no longer chief executive, he remains on Uber's board and has the power to appoint three members.

One of Uber's earliest and largest investors, Benchmark, is now suing both the company and former CEO Travis Kalanick, the latter for fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. As per a court document, Benchmark holds about 20% of the voting rights in Uber and 13% of its ordinary shares.

The complaint alleges Kalanick's motive was to pack the board with allies, eventually paving the way for him to return as Uber's CEO.

Besides claims of fraudulent behavior, Benchmark's lawsuit also notes several controversies that have put Uber in a pickle, including its dispute with Waymo, a mishandled rape case in India, sexist allegations, and its alleged tracking program called Greyball. Among other things, Benchmark said, Kalanick knew Uber might be accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo, Google's self-driving vehicle unit.

The lawsuit also says Kalanick didn't discuss his failure to curb Uber's pervasive culture of discrimination and sexual harassment.

The mismanagement Benchmark cites in the case includes sexual discrimination claims brought against Uber earlier this year, as well as the acquisition of autonomous trucking company Otto, which has led to a trade secret case filed against it by Google-owned self-driving vehicle unit Waymo.

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In it, the board says it is "disappointed" the disagreement between shareholders has resulted in litigation and has urged the two parties to resolve the matter "cooperatively and quickly".

According to Axios' Dan Primack, Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital, Ron Burkle of Yucaipa Companies, and Adam Leber of Maverick sent a petition Friday morning to other Uber investors and Uber's board of directors calling for Benchmark to step aside.

The letter was referring to a May boating accident that killed Kalanick's mother and injured his father even as the hard-charging Uber co-founder was losing his position as CEO of the company.

Benchmark wants to remove the three additional seats and return the board to eight members.

A representative for Uber declined to comment on the lawsuit. But in a statement, Kalanick's spokesperson said the lawsuit is an attempt to deprive Kalanick of his rights as an Uber founder and shareholder. "Travis will continue to act in the interests of Uber and all of its stakeholders and is confident that these entirely baseless claims will be rejected". One of Uber's biggest shareholders stated that Kalanick has been telling people that he has "Steve Jobs-In it" and will be back at the helm.

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