- REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former CEO, is actively thwarting the company’s search for his replacement, according to a new lawsuit. The suit, filed by early Uber investor Benchmark Capital, alleges that Kalanick fraudulently gained control of three out of Uber’s 11 board seats. Benchmark’s suit accuses Kalanick of intending to use the board seats to put himself back in the CEO seat.
Travis Kalanick may have stepped down as Uber’s CEO, but he hasn’t been sitting around idly since then, according to a new lawsuit.
Instead, he’s been actively thwarting the company’s search for a new CEO in the hope that he will soon regain the role, charged early Uber investor Benchmark Capital in the explosive new suit, which it filed against Kalanick on Thursday.
The suit revolves around a decision last year to increase Uber’s board from eight seats to 11, with those additional three seats in the sole control of Kalanick. Benchmark charges that Kalanick got investors to agree to those additional seats only through fraud and has been using his control over them to hamper the company’s attempts to hire his replacement.
Here’s how Kalanick’s doing that, according to the suit:
He’s dragging his feet over the fate of two of the three board seats, leaving the company in a state of uncertainty
When Kalanick resigned, he took one of the three new board seats, while giving up the one that’s reserved for the company’s CEO, according to the suit. 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.
“To date, Kalanick’s only response has been an email (sent on or around June 30, 2017) that he is ‘not ready to sign’ the amended Voting Agreement,” Benchmark said in the suit.
As a board member, Kalanick is still involved with Uber and has been chasing candidates away
“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reported that Kalanick’s behavior has already interfered with Uber’s CEO search: various potential candidates have withdrawn from consideration because of Kalanick’s continued participation in the search and his efforts to re-assert influence over the company,” Benchmark said in its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.
He’s hoping to load the board with people who are loyal to him and who would restore him to the CEO position
Benchmark charged: “It is apparent that Kalanick has attempted to acquire the power to pack the Board to facilitate his desired re-appointment as Uber’s CEO.”
Benchmark is asking the court to invalidate the agreement to increase the board by three seats and kick Kalanick off the board altogether. It’s also asking the court to suspend any board-level voting, such as hiring a new CEO, until the court rules on the status of the three additional board seats.
Benchmark was one of the key investors that forced Kalanick to resign back in June. The lawsuit makes clear that tensions between Kalanick and Benchmark have remained high ever since.
Axios’ Dan Primack was first to report the news on the lawsuit Thursday.