Uber CEO Travis Kalanick attends the summer time World Financial Discussion board in Tianjin, China, June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Shu Zhang
Workers / Reuters
Uber co-founder and former chief govt Travis Kalanick submitted courtroom filings on Thursday arguing that the unprecedented investor lawsuit introduced in opposition to him final week is a part of a private assault. Kalanick’s submitting stated Benchmark Capital had the knowledge in its lawsuit, which accuses him of fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary responsibility, over a yr in the past.
In responding to the swimsuit introduced by Benchmark, a San Francisco-based enterprise capital agency and one among Uber’s largest shareholders, Kalanick’s authorized crew stated that the Delaware Chancery Courtroom “lacks material jurisdiction” within the case, arguing that “Benchmark's claims are topic to obligatory arbitration.”
Kalanick, who resigned as CEO of the ride-hailing firm in June after a sequence of sexual harassment scandals and stories of govt misbehavior, nonetheless sits on its board. Benchmark, which filed its lawsuit final week, additionally controls a board seat.
“Benchmark Capital Companions initiated this motion as a part of its public and private assault on Travis Kalanick, the founding father of Uber,” the submitting stated. “[Benchmark] executed its plan on the most shameful of instances: instantly after Kalanick skilled a horrible private tragedy.”
The submitting outlined how Kalanick was the topic of an alleged “ambush” by Benchmark Capital only a week and a half after his mom was killed in a boating accident. It stated Benchmark Capital members “handed Kalanick a draft resignation letter, and advised him he had hours to signal it, or else Benchmark would begin a public marketing campaign in opposition to him.”
The authorized battle enjoying out in Uber’s board room, is simply the most recent signal of dysfunction on the $69 billion firm, which has been stricken by a disaster of management, complaints about its grinding work culture, and a number of other different high-profile lawsuits. In its swimsuit, Benchmark accused Kalanick of fraud and breach of fiduciary responsibility for not informing the board of issues at Uber and creating a board energy construction that may preserve his affect in case he was eliminated as CEO. Benchmark additionally stated that Kalanick is interfering within the firm’s seek for a brand new chief govt.
A spokesperson for Benchmark declined to touch upon Kalanick’s response and referred BuzzFeed Information to an earlier assertion.
“Resorting to litigation was an especially troublesome step for Benchmark,” learn the assertion. “Failing to behave now would imply endorsing habits that’s completely unacceptable in any firm, not to mention an organization of Uber's dimension and significance.”
In its lawsuit, Benchmark alleges that Kalanick intentionally hid “gross mismanagement and different misconduct” in June 2016 throughout an important vote to broaden the variety of seats on the board. These practices included the unlawful obtainment of the medical information of a rape sufferer who was attacked by her driver in India in addition to the acquisition of self-driving automobile startup Otto — which had allegedly stolen mental property from Waymo, a subsidiary of Google guardian firm Alphabet. The rape sufferer and Waymo at the moment are each suing Uber in separate lawsuits.
Because of the 2016 vote, Kalanick now has management over who’s appointed to a few Uber board seats. Benchmark is trying to have a courtroom reverse that 2016 choice to empower Uber’s former CEO to have management in appointing these positions.
On Thursday, Kalanick’s authorized crew stated that previous to his resignation, Kalanick acquired “a letter, purportedly on behalf of Benchmark and others, which said that they had been 'deeply grateful to your imaginative and prescient and tireless efforts during the last eight years,' however which demanded that Kalanick 'instantly and completely resign as CEO.' Right now, Benchmark was totally conscious of the entire allegations involving Kalanick set forth in its Grievance — regarding the Waymo lawsuit, the India investigation, and the “Greyball” investigation — but it made no point out of getting been 'fraudulently induced' to enter into the 2016 Voting Settlement.”
The battle between Kalanick and Benchmark has additionally ensnared different Uber backers. Shervin Pishevar, an early Uber investor and former board observer, penned a letter to Benchmark final Friday asking the corporate to drop its lawsuit, step off the board and divest from the corporate for introducing litigation that was “value-destructive.” Pishevar, who’s named himself the coordinator of the Uber Shareholder Alliance, additionally stated in his letter that his group had lined up buyers prepared to accumulate 75% of Benchmark’s present place, which is value $9 billion at Uber’s most up-to-date $69 billion valuation.
Pishevar doubled down on his phrases earlier this week and despatched a second letter, making accusations at one other giant Uber shareholder, Lowercase Capital, for working with Benchmark to allegedly undermine the corporate.
For its half, the remainder of Uber’s board has stayed out of the fray. Final Friday, the six different board members, which didn’t embody Kalanick or Benchmark accomplice Matt Cohler, stated they had been “disillusioned disagreement between shareholders has resulted in litigation.”
“The Board has urged each events to resolve the matter cooperatively and shortly, and the Board is taking steps to facilitate that course of,” learn the assertion. “At a time when 1000’s of staff world wide are working onerous to serve our drivers and riders and proceed to innovate, our precedence stays to pick out Uber's new CEO as expeditiously as potential.”
Kalanick's authorized crew selected to interpret this as a press release of assist, writing in Thursday's submitting that “opposite to Benchmark’s suggestion that its lawsuit is 'in the perfect pursuits of Uber, each different member of the board disagrees.”
Past its CEO search, the corporate can be wrangling with a a number of choices to permit present shareholders to promote their shares to exterior buyers, together with Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and Dragoneer Funding Group. These discussions are nonetheless on-going.
Right here's the submitting.