In Uber news this week, sources have revealed that Benchmark, Uber’s biggest investor, wants Meg Whitman to be the ridesharing company’s new CEO.
Whitman is currently the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. And while she had publicly denied she wanted the job on July 27 — tweeting, “Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman” — two sources told CNBC that Benchmark is still telling people that she is a potential candidate, and that Whitman has had conversations with the ridesharing company since her public statement.
The Hewlett Packard executive’s relationship with Benchmark goes back to the 1990s, when Benchmark was an early investor in eBay, which hired Whitman as CEO in March 1998. Benchmark held a 22 percent stake in the company when it went public later that year.
One source revealed that Whitman and former GE CEO Jeff Immelt have each spoken to all board members either on the phone or in person, a sign that both are being seriously considered for the Uber CEO position. However, another person close to the situation insists that Whitman is not interested in the job.
Uber has been searching for a new CEO ever since Travis Kalanick was ousted from the position earlier this year. Benchmark is embroiled in a board battle with Kalanick, filing a lawsuit to eliminate three board seats which were added when he was CEO.
Benchmark also accused Travis 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 called the lawsuit a “public and personal attack” without merit.
In addition, Benchmark released an open letter last week to Uber employees, saying Kalanick had undermined the CEO search and was seeking to “create a power vacuum in which Travis could return.”
But Uber Co-Founder and Board Member Garrett Camp recently told employees that Kalanick will not be returning to the company to fill his former role. Whether Uber’s CEO role will be filled by Meg Whitman, Jeff Immelt or another candidate remains to be seen.