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


Benchmark claimed in its suit that it would never have approved a 2016 expansion of Uber's board that allowed Kalanick to fill a board seat had it been aware of the controversy surrounding Kalanick and of Uber's cultural problems.

Kalanick was forced to resign from the top post in June even though the company has since been functioning without a successor.

His departure capped a rocky period for the global ride sharing giant, which has been roiled by disturbing reports of a cutthroat workplace culture, harassment, discrimination and questionable business tactics to thwart rivals.

That board - and its support for former CEO Travis Kalanick [pictured above] - was the subject of a lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court by Benchmark Capital Partners.

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".

What seems to have triggered the latest round of spat is Kalanick's refusal to let go of his privilege to appoint three board seats. The suit accuses the former CEO of mismanagement and packing the board with supporters.

Benchmark has a 20 percent stake in the company's voting rights, according to the lawsuit. The pioneering company has been facing pressure to rein in a no-holds-barred management style led by Kalanick, and to reform its work environment.

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.

"The lawsuit is completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations".

"This is continued evidence of Benchmark acting in its own best interests contrary to the interests of Uber, its employees and its other shareholders", the representative said.

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.

"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", the statement said. Waymo sued Uber earlier this year.

The board had a meeting scheduled for Friday, Axios said. 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. "Despite rumors I'm sure you've seen in the news, Travis is not returning as CEO". Graves will remain on Uber's board.