VC firm Benchmark Capital, one of Uber’s earliest and most influential investors, is now suing ex-CEO Travis Kalanick for fraud and alleging that his politicking to return to power is in breach of his fiduciary duty to the company.
Travis has been playing fast and loose with board seats — behavior Benchmark considers to be a detriment to Uber.
If they win out, Kalanick risks losing his seat on the board, and with it, his last vestige of power at the company.
The ol’ bait-and-switch
See, about a year ago, Uber’s board of directors (Benchmark included) voted to expand its seats from 8 to 11, and granted Kalanick sole power to assign the extra 3.
But this was before a veritable potpourri of Uber scandals — sexual harassment allegations, the Holder investigation, the Waymo lawsuit — came to light.
Now, Benchmark feels like they’ve been had. They claim they would have never voted to give Kalanick power over the board seats had they known about his “gross mismanagement and other misconduct at Uber.”
And to add insult to injury…
Travis’ 1st pick for a board seat?
Following his resignation, Kalanick immediately used 1 of his 3 wishes to stay on and “oversee” the search for his successor. But since stepping down, his main objective has appeared to be plotting his return, not choosing a replacement.
Or, as Benchmark puts it, stacking the board with “loyal allies” to “clear the path for his eventual return as CEO.”
This checks out with reports of turmoil and hostility among Uber’s board members, which have already caused at least one CEO candidate (Meg “Leaves of Grass” Whitman) to pass on the position.
As for K-train…
His spokesperson says the lawsuit is “completely without merit and riddled with lies,” — a selfishly motivated personal attack meant to deprive Travis of his rights.
Guess we’ll just have to wait until the dust settles to see who’s the last one sitting.