A major Uber investor on Thursday sued founder Travis Kalanick, accusing the recently departed chief executive of covering misdeeds while rigging the board in order to return to power at the company. In addition, Benchmark alleges that Kalanick has refused to follow through on a previous agreement to make the two board seats open to approval by the entire board of directors. It's a surprising move by a venture capital firm, but it comes amid a constant stream of news about sexual harassment, gender discrimination, a lawsuit by Google Inc. self-driving auto unit Waymo Inc. charging that a former Google executive's self-driving truck startup Otto acquired by Uber involved stolen trade secrets, and other issues.
Investor Benchmark Capital is chafing at the idea, however, and filed suit against its former colleague in DE on Thursday for fraud and breach of contract.
Effectively, according to the lawsuit, the new vote created a mechanism in which Kalanick would "continue to have an outsized role in Uber's strategic direction even if forced to resign as CEO".
Benchmark wants the court to invalidate the expansion vote, which would remove Kalanick from the board, and in the meantime wants him banned from participating in board activities such as the CEO search.
Benchmark Capital, which owns 13% of the ride-sharing firm, has accused Mr Kalanick of fraudulently attempting to fill board seats with loyal allies. The complaint says Kalanick still holds about a 10-percent stake in the company. Mr. Kalanick has been active in those discussions, people with knowledge of Uber's board have previously said. Uber has fired at least 20 employees as a result of that investigation. Mr. Kalanick, who had built Uber up over the past eight years, stepped down in June after pressure from investors, leaving no clear successor.