Finance

Uber investor sues ex-CEO over alleged fraud

Uber investor sues ex-CEO over alleged fraud

That board - and its support for former CEO Travis Kalanick [pictured above] - was the subject of a lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court by Benchmark Capital Partners.

Venture capital firm Benchmark has been asked by a group of Uber shareholders to step down from the board.

Benchmark's suit comes on the heels of another lawsuit from Waymo, Google's self-driving auto unit, which had also sued Uber.

Kalanick meanwhile has vehemently denied the allegations, claiming it to be false and farther away from the truth.

The suit revolves around the June 2016 vote to increase the size of the board's voting directors from eight to 11 seats, with Kalanick having the sole right to designate those seats. He also agreed to relinquish control of the other two new seats, but Benchmark alleges that he's not yet signed the document that would make that official.

While Benchmark's voting power nominally gives it the clout to outvote Kalanick, Kalanick now controls three out of 11 board seats, his own and two vacant seats.

Some of Uber's top investors appear to be engaged in a civil war, underscoring the deep chaos that has sown behind the scenes.

The letter's lead author Pishevar, a close friend of Kalanick, griped that Gurley filed the Thursday lawsuit "on a few hours' notice and within weeks of a personal tragedy, under threat of public scandal".

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"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.

"It has been publicly reported that Kalanick's behavior has already interfered with Uber's CEO search: various potential candidates have withdrawn from consideration because of Kalanick's continued participation in the search and his efforts to re-assert influence over the company", Benchmark said in its complaint.

Benchmark also felt that Kalanick failed to satisfactorily respond to the numerous discrimination and sexual harassment instances that have cropped up with the company.

Uber has dealt with several problems this year, including issues of gender bias and harassment in the workplace and a trade-secret-theft lawsuit from self-driving auto company Waymo.

Kalanick announced an indefinite leave of absence in June, following the recommendation of an independent report from former attorney general Eric Holder regarding the company's culture.

Benchmark alleged in its suit that pertinent information was hidden from investors and that Uber's own CEO had known beforehand that Waymo might sue.

An email to Kalanick was not immediately returned. Graves will remain on Uber's board.

"In some ways my focus going forward will not actually change very much - it remains all about people, and it's clear to me the stability of our board of directors, the selection of our new CEO, and the empowerment of our management team is what is needed most", he said.


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