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Uber board 'disappointed' by Benchmark's lawsuit against former CEO

13 Août 2017

Instead, he's been actively thwarting the company's search for a new CEO in the hope that he will soon regain the role, charged early Uber investor Benchmark Capital in the explosive new suit, which it filed against Kalanick on Thursday.

The suit, which calls on a DE court to bar Kalanick from tinkering with the Uber board in any way, argued that Kalanick saw his resignation as unavoidable and finagled to "pack the board with loyal allies in an attempt to insulate his prior conduct from scrutiny and clear the path for his eventual return as CEO".

Benchmark general partner Bill Gurley, a former Uber board member who helped lead the effort to oust Kalanick, struck a diplomatic tone in June about the resignation. The lawsuit was filed in an effort to kick Kalanick off the board and get rid of a few empty board seats that were added past year, with Benchmark arguing that it never would have approved the addition of those seats had they been aware of Kalanick's "gross mismanagement" of the company.

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.

On Friday morning, three Uber investors asked Benchmark to divest its shares and step down from Uber's board, according to an e-mail published by news Web site Axios and confirmed by Reuters. The other two seats are still vacant, notes TechCrunch.

"To date, Kalanick's only response has been an email (sent on or around June 30, 2017) that he is "not ready to sign" the amended Voting Agreement", Benchmark said in the suit.

Benchmark is asking the court to invalidate the agreement to increase the board by three seats and kick Kalanick off the board altogether.

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Kalanick, who had been the driving force behind Uber's massive global expansion and whose brash style had made him a liability, still holds a large voting stake in the company, whose Dollars 68 billion valuation makes it the world's largest venture-backed startup. Benchmark is also accused of being especially vengeful against Kalanick with the lawsuit seen as an attempt to prevent him from having a say in the daily operation of the company co-founded by him.

In a statement, Kalanick stated that the suit was "completely baseless" and "riddled with lies".

Uber has dealt with several problems this year, including issues of gender bias and harassment in the workplace and a trade-secret-theft lawsuit from self-driving auto company Waymo.

Image credit: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick/Twitter.

The outcome of an emergency board meeting on Friday to address Uber's warring factions could not be determined at press time. "We are committed to hiring a new world-class CEO to lead Uber".

"In some ways my focus going forward will not actually change very much - it remains all about people, and it's clear to me the stability of our board of directors, the selection of our new CEO, and the empowerment of our management team is what is needed most", he said.

Uber board 'disappointed' by Benchmark's lawsuit against former CEO