NACD - National Association of Corporate Directors

Benchmark Sues Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

TechCrunch (Aug. 10, Roof) reports that Benchmark, the California venture firm and early investor in Uber Technologies, has sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The suit alleges that Kalanick committed fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The publication states, "Accusing Kalanick of being 'selfish' by packing Uber's board with 'loyal allies,' Benchmark alleges that the ousted CEO broke the law by trying to pave the way for his own return." The lawsuit could kick Kalanick off the board if successful, making his return to the C-suite impossible. Much of the complaint revolves around a summer 2016 decision that expanded the size of Uber's board of directors from eight members to 11. "Kalanick was given the right to choose those seats," recalls TechCrunch. He eventually gave one to himself when he lost his CEO post, and the other two remain unfilled. Benchmark asserts that it never would have given Kalanick the power to pick those seats if it had been aware of the gender discrimination and other misconduct at the company on his watch.

The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 11, Bensinger) adds that "the suit sheds light on the dispute between one of Uber's earliest and most influential investors and Kalanick, who was ousted as chief executive in June in an investor revolt led by Benchmark." The venture firm owns a 13 percent stake in Uber. Kalanick had been Uber's CEO for seven years, helping to build the company into a ride-hailing powerhouse with operations in more than 70 countries and upwards of $6 billion in 2016 revenue. Uber's board is now trying to hire a new CEO, along with a new COO, CFO, and a chief of marketing. "The company is working to put on its best face for high-level executives under consideration like former General E