Uber shareholders revolt against venture firm after surprise lawsuit

2017 Mini Countryman Front Right Quarter

Uber shareholders revolt against venture firm after surprise lawsuit

Uber co-founder and ousted CEO, Travis Kalanick now has more trouble on his platter following the recent filing of a lawsuit against him by one of the company's biggest investor, Benchmark Capital.

Investors Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital, Ron Burkle of Yucaipa Companies and Adam Leber, an angel investor who works for music company Maverick, signed the email and said Benchmark's lawsuit harms Uber Technologies Inc's [UBER.UL] valuation, interferes with fundraising efforts and impedes the company's search for a new CEO to replace Kalanick, according to the email sent to shareholders and board members.

Yesterday Benchmark sued Kalanick for fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty in Delaware Chancery Court.

But it would seem being CEO is far different than maintaining control as a board member, for just as quickly, he appointed himself to one of three board seats, so that Uber's members of the board now number 11 instead of the previous eight.

Benchmark charged: "It is apparent that Kalanick has attempted to acquire the power to pack the Board to facilitate his desired re-appointment 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.

Benchmark is asking the court to invalidate the agreement to increase the board by three seats and kick Kalanick off the board altogether. The lawsuit said Kalanick had known all these but failed to properly disclose them.

Their Friday letter accused Gurley - who for years was a mentor to Kalanick before a slew of scandals at Uber soured their relationship - of holding Uber "hostage to a public relations disaster by demanding Mr. Kalanick's resignation".

A representative for Kalanick said the lawsuit is "completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations". "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".

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. Kalanick has been tied to these internal crises, with publications painting him as a "pugnacious" CEO with a relentless approach to dealing with business.

The outcome of an emergency board meeting on Friday to address Uber's warring factions could not be determined at press time.

Kalanick announced an indefinite leave of absence in June, following the recommendation of an independent report from former attorney general Eric Holder regarding the company's culture. "We are committed to hiring a new world-class CEO to lead Uber". He will still remain on the board.

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