Former Uber chief Travis Kalanick strikes back at Benchmark Capital

Travis Kalanick says Benchmark Capital, the Uber board member suing him for fraud, pretended to be on his side and then forced him to resign as CEO while he was vulnerable due to the death of his mother.

But his filing said that, at the time of the change, "Benchmark was fully aware of all of the allegations".

Benchmark alleges Kalanick has been interfering in the CEO search and manipulating Uber's board in a scheme to bring him back as the company's leader. Benchmark Capital also holds a board seat, and says it controls 20% of voting rights.

Kalanick calls Benchmark's claims - that he defrauded the firm into signing amendments to the board's voting agreements - fabrications.

In order to get a judge to agree to issuing a preliminary injunction, the onus is on Benchmark to prove that without immediate court intervention, Kalanick's ongoing presence on the board would cause irreparable harm to Uber. The firm accuses Kalanick of hiding misconduct from investors, including his troubled acquisition of self-driving trucking startup Otto that later sparked allegations of trade secret theft, a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the company, and an Uber executive's alleged theft of the medical records of a woman who was raped by her Uber driver. Benchmark now wants those powers taken away, contending they were given to Kalanick under false pretenses.

It also said Spencer Meyer, the passenger named in the proposed class action, had agreed as a matter of law to arbitrate his own claims with Uber. "Its position was explicitly to the contrary".

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"Like many shareholders, I am disappointed and baffled by Benchmark's hostile actions, which clearly are not in the best interests of Uber and its employees on whose behalf they claim to be acting".

"Through May 2017, Benchmark outwardly supported Kalanick as CEO of the company", his lawyers wrote.

Kalanick's filing gives a brief history of Uber, and a timeline of how Kalanick's July resignation came about.

Kalanick's lawsuit said that Benchmark had threatened him in June to resign, stating that if he didn't sign a document immediately that the investors would launch a public smear campaign against him.

Former Uber CEO Kalanick is skewering a lawsuit filed by a former ally, describing it as a malicious attempt to sever his remaining ties to the ride-hailing service that he co-founded.

When asked for comment, a Benchmark spokesperson referred to a statement about the original filing: "Resorting to litigation was an extremely hard step for Benchmark. Failing to act now would mean endorsing behavior that is utterly unacceptable in any company, let alone a company of Uber's size and importance".

  • Desiree Holland