Benchmark Files Lawsuit, Wants To Oust Former Uber CEO From Board

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been accused by one of his company’s biggest investors of dishonoring the terms of his resignation. The firm says that Kalanick is trying to manipulate the board to get the maximum advantage for himself.

Ex Uber CEO wants all power to himself: Benchmark

In the suit filed on Thursday, Benchmark Capital alleges that Kalanick has committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. 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.

A major concern of the complainant is Uber’s decision to increase the size of the board from eight to 11 in 2016. Since Kalanick had the power to choose the seats, he allotted one to himself, as he lost his CEO position. The other two seats are still vacant, notes TechCrunch. Benchmark claims there was no chance that Kalanick would have gotten the right to select the seat if the firm known about the gender discrimination, misconduct and sexual harassment complaints.

Even though Kalanick agreed to give away control of two seats, he has yet to sign the document making it official.

“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 further stated that Kalanick still has a say in the Uber CEO search, and as a result, various potential candidates have backed out from participation. His interference in the matter is a clear indication of his desire to reinstate his influence over the company, notes Business Insider.

Who will eventually lose?

In a statement, Kalanick stated that the suit was “completely baseless” and “riddled with lies.” However, he did not mention anything about specific inaccuracies. Further, he said that Benchmark is acting in its own interests and against the interests of Uber.

In June, Kalanick resigned from the CEO post under a lot of pressure, much of which was contributed by Benchmark. However, it is clear that even after stepping down, the tension between the two has only scaled up. As per a court document, Benchmark holds about 20% of the voting rights in Uber and 13% of its ordinary shares. On the other hand, Kalanick controls about 16% of the voting rights and holds 10% of the ordinary shares, notes FT.

Benchmark wants the court to nullify the agreement to add the three board seats and oust Kalanick from the board entirely. The firm also wants the court to suspend any board level voting, like hiring a new CEO, for the time being.

Others, however, are concerned that the latest lawsuit could further deteriorate the ride-sharing firm. Freada Kapor of Kapor Capital, an early investor in Uber, told the Financial Times that the lawsuits and changes in the board could mean less focus on the cultural changes the company has been trying to make. Uber has vowed to implement the recommendations prepared for it by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“With what is going on now, I don’t think anybody is paying attention to those recommendations,” Kapor said.

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