Top Uber investor sues Travis Kalanick for fraud

Top Uber investor sues Travis Kalanick for fraud

Earlier this week another longtime Kalanick ally, co-founder Garrett Camp, sent a memo to employees saying that "Travis is not returning as CEO", according to a copy obtained by tech website Recode.

They also note that they have investors lined up to acquire 75% of Benchmark's current position, which is now near $9 billion at Uber's current $69 billion valuation, if they are willing to withdraw their lawsuit.

Benchmark claims that Kalanick is attempting to fill Uber's board with "loyal allies" to help him return to his former position.

Specifically, Benchmark Capital's complaint focuses on a 2016 decision to expand Uber's board of voting directors from eight to 11 seats. He gave one to himself after resigning as CEO, while the other two remain unfilled.

Mr. Kalanick would have also omitted to mention "the widespread cultivation of discrimination and sexual harassment, and other guidelines as inappropriate and immoral", according to the text of the complaint. Before that, it is asking the court for preliminary injunction against Kalanick participating, voting or having a say in board matters.

Kalanick, who denies the suit's allegations, stepped aside from his CEO duties in June.

This is significant, not only because of Uber's size but because Benchmark is considered one of Silicon Valley's top venture firms, with the team including noted investor Bill Gurley.

"Normally these kinds of skirmishes are dealt with quietly and discreetly behind the scenes", he said.

2/ An Uber accountable to serving its entire ecosystem -riders, drivers & employees- stands to be one of the defining companies of our time. "It's an indictment of the governance of Uber".

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. In previous reporting, it's been noted that Kalanick's long tenure at the helm of the ride-hailing startup is a result of abetting by a board that has allowed many of his indiscretions to pass without comment because of the expectation of high profits.

Kalanick, naturally, disputes all the allegations in the new lawsuit filed by his investors. For Kalanick, his baby will be taken away if he loses, but he'll still own 10 per cent of the company. After engineer Susan Fowler wrote a blog post about Uber's aggressive workplace culture, the company commissioned an external investigation.

"We have investors ready to acquire these shares as soon as we receive communication from Benchmark that they are willing to withdraw their lawsuit and sell a minimum of 75% of their holdings", the letter said. The three new seats, under the new 2016 rules, were to be chosen directly by Kalanick. Kalanick knew of the Greyball program but didn't tell the board anything about it, the suit says. As some observers have pointed out, it's hard to believe that the board wasn't aware of numerous incidents of misconduct, especially since some of them were very prominently in the news.

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