Benchmark Files Lawsuit, Wants To Oust Former Uber CEO From Board

Things could go from bad to worse for Travis Kalanick

Benchmark, one of Silicon Valley's top venture-capital firms, insists in its suit that Kalanick's reported transgressions weren't evident when Uber's board voted a year ago to increase its membership from eight to 11 and to give Kalanick sole appointment rights.

Benchmark was among the Uber investors that in June pressed Kalanick to step down after a string of setbacks.

His departure capped a rocky period for the global ride sharing giant, which has been roiled by disturbing reports of a cutthroat workplace culture, harassment, discrimination and questionable business tactics to thwart rivals.

Instead, he's been actively thwarting the company's search for a new CEO in the hope that he will soon regain the role, charged early Uber investor Benchmark Capital in the explosive new suit, which it filed against Kalanick on Thursday.

But it would seem being CEO is far different than maintaining control as a board member, for just as quickly, he appointed himself to one of three board seats, so that Uber's members of the board now number 11 instead of the previous eight. The suit accuses the former CEO of mismanagement and packing the board with supporters. The pioneering company has been facing pressure to rein in a no-holds-barred management style led by Kalanick, and to reform its work environment.

"The lawsuit is completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations".

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Benchmark's lawsuit led some investors earlier today to urge the investment firm to vacate its place on the board and divest enough shares so that it would no longer have board voting rights.

Uber said it had no comment on the lawsuit.

"Travis will continue to act in the interests of Uber and all of its stakeholders and is confident that these entirely baseless claims will be rejected", the statement said.

Travis Kalanick may have stepped down as Uber's CEO, but he hasn't been sitting around idly since then, according to a new lawsuit. A tape of Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver over falling fares was also released in February, prompting the CEO to apologize and admit that he needs leadership help. Uber has vowed to implement the recommendations prepared for it by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The firm says that Kalanick is trying to manipulate the board to get the maximum advantage for himself.

"It's time for a new chapter, and the right leader for our next phase of growth", he told employees. That revelation's impact was somewhat lessened by the fact that Graves would remain as a member of the board.

"In some ways my focus going forward will not actually change very much - it remains all about people, and it's clear to me the stability of our board of directors, the selection of our new CEO, and the empowerment of our management team is what is needed most", he said.

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