Economy

Uber investors seek to oust Benchmark after 'destructive' lawsuit

Uber investors seek to oust Benchmark after 'destructive' lawsuit

Benchmark's lawsuit led some investors earlier today to urge the investment firm to vacate its place on the board and divest enough shares so that it would no longer have board voting rights.

San-Francisco-based Uber is still seeking a new CEO and on Thursday its global operations chief revealed to staff in an email that he would be standing down from the role in mid-September.

Technology investors around Silicon Valley termed this as "the nuclear option" for a venture capital firm.

The suit revolves around a decision a year ago to increase Uber's board from eight seats to 11, with those additional three seats in the sole control of Kalanick.

A spokesperson for Mr Kalanick said the legal action is "completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations".

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.

Benchmark isn't actually suing Uber, the company itself. But he quickly appointed himself to one of the three board seats. He also agreed to relinquish control of the other two new seats, but Benchmark alleges that he's not yet signed the document that would make that official.

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Benchmark filed a lawsuit on Thursday that seeks to force Kalanick off the board and accuses him of concealing a range of misdeeds and scheming to retain power at the company even after he was forced to resign as chief executive in June.

The outcome of an emergency board meeting on Friday to address Uber's warring factions could not be determined at press time. In doing this, Benchmark says Kalanick will bypass scrutiny for past actions and help "clear the path" to becoming once again Uber's leader.

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

Axios, which first broke the story, quoted a Kalanick spokesman who called the suit "a transparent attempt to deprive Travis Kalanick of his rights as a founder and shareholder".

Already Camp has said Kalanick will not return as CEO, despite reports that he has been angling to do just that.

In the past year alone, Kalanick has been accused of fostering a toxic work environment ridden with sex-harassment allegations, bleeding top talent and stealing trade secrets by hiring a Google executive to lead its driverless-car initiative. No worries. There are plenty of vehicle safety features that are available, affordably, for ALL cars, not just new ones.


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