One of Uber's Investors Just Sued Its Former CEO for Fraud

Lawsuit accuses Travis Kalanick of trying to get back in as CEO
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 10, 2017 6:40 PM CDT
This May 26, 2017, file photo shows an Uber office in Austin, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(Newser) – Uber Technologies Inc. faced a fresh round of turmoil Thursday, with its global operations chief resigning and a major investor suing the ride-hailing company's former CEO, the AP reports. Ryan Graves told Uber staff in an email Thursday that he will transition out of his role as senior vice president of global operations in mid-September. Graves will remain on Uber's board. That board—and its support for former CEO Travis Kalanick—was the subject of a lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court by Benchmark Capital Partners. Benchmark holds 13% of Uber's stock. It claims Kalanick is trying to pack Uber's board with his allies and eventually return to his post as CEO. The venture capital firm says that would harm Uber's shareholders, employees, drivers, and customers. Uber said it had no comment on the lawsuit, but a spokesperson for Kalanick said the lawsuit is "completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations."

In the lawsuit, Benchmark claims Kalanick concealed material information from investors when he created three new board seats in 2016 and gave himself the right to appoint people to those seats. Among other things, Benchmark said, Kalanick knew Uber might be accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo, Google's self-driving car unit. Waymo sued Uber earlier this year. The lawsuit also says Kalanick didn't discuss his failure to curb Uber's pervasive culture of discrimination and sexual harassment. Kalanick resigned under pressure in June after a monthslong investigation into harassment and other behavior problems at the San Francisco-based company. But he quickly appointed himself to one of the three board seats. The other two remain vacant. Benchmark says Kalanick has acquired "a disproportionate level of influence over the board, ensuring that he would continue to have an outsized role in Uber's strategic direction even if forced to resign as CEO." (Read more Uber stories.)

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