….Benchmark Capital is accusing Travis Kalanick of scheming to regain power by trying to pack the board, which the ex-CEO says is a lie.
Uber’s former boss, Travis Kalanick, who was ousted following a revolt by major shareholders is being sued by one of its largest investors. Benchmark Capital, which owns 13% of the ride-hailing company, has accused Travis Kalanick of fraudulently trying to pack Uber’s board with his allies so he can return to his old job as CEO.
The venture capital firm claims that would harm Uber’s shareholders, employees, drivers and customers.Mr Kalanick was forced to quit his post at the taxi app firm in mid-June after receiving a letter demanding his resignation from some of its top investors. The shareholders joined forces just a week after Mr Kalanick announced he was taking time out to battle personal problems.
The matter came to a head in March after a video surfaced showing him in an angry pay row with an Uber driver.But while he is no longer chief executive, he remains on Uber’s board and has the power to appoint three members.
A spokesperson for Mr Kalanick said the legal action 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,” the statement said.
The company’s problems are not confined to its internal battles over bullying and sexual harassment claims –
in early June 20 employees were fired following an investigation into 215 harassment complaints. It has also been fighting allegations it is relying on a key piece of technology stolen from Google spin-off Waymo to build self-driving cars.
Among the allegations in its lawsuit, Benchmark claims Mr Kalanick knew Uber might be accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo and has interfered in the board’s attempts to hire a new CEO. It wants to remove him from the board – and get rid of the three extra seats added by Mr Kalanick.
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. He will still remain on the board.
Under Mr Kalanick, the Uber app has revolutionised the taxi industry in hundreds of cities. Now valued at close to $70bn (£55bn), it has fast become the world’s most valuable start-up.
Uber said it had no comment on the lawsuit, and a spokeswoman for Benchmark declined to comment.