The ousted CEO of Uber called a lawsuit filed against him by one of the company’s top investors a “public and personal attack” without merit.
Reuters reported that venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which says it owns 13 percent of Uber and controls 20 percent of the voting power, last week sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to force him off the board and rescind his remaining power there. At issue is a change to the board structure last year that expanded the number of voting directors by three, with Kalanick having the sole right to fill those seats.
Benchmark accused Kalanick of hiding a number of misdeeds when he asked Uber’s board to give him those extra seats, including allegations of trade-secret theft involving autonomous car technology and misconduct by Kalanick and other executives in handling a rape committed by an Uber driver in India.
Kalanick, in the first court filing in response to the lawsuit, said Benchmark’s lawsuit is part of a larger plan to oust him from the company and take away power that is rightfully his, and that, “Benchmark was fully aware of all of the allegations involving Kalanick.” In fact, Benchmark continued to publicly support Kalanick through May before calling for his resignation in June.
“The Benchmark principals also handed Kalanick a draft resignation letter and told him he had hours to sign it or else Benchmark would start a public campaign against him,” according to the court document.
In response to the lawsuit, the remaining six members of Uber’s board of directors last week issued a statement expressing their “disappointment,” In addition, Uber investor Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital, joined by other shareholders, sent letters to Benchmark calling for the firm to divest its shares and step down from the board.
Benchmark countered this week with an open letter to Uber employees, saying Kalanick had undermined the CEO search and was seeking to “create a power vacuum in which Travis could return.”