Uber's Kalanick names 2 new directors to company board

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Uber's ousted CEO Travis Kalanick has appointed two members to the firm's board of directors for seats under his control in a move reportedly meant to solidify his influence in the company, a media report said.

Kalanick, still one of the largest shareholders, said in a statement he had appointed former Xerox Chief Executive Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive John Thain as directors.

"The appointments of Ms Burns and Mr Thain to Uber's board of directors came as a complete surprise to Uber and its board", the company said.

Kalanick's announcement, late on Friday, that he was filling the two seats appears to be a direct challenge to Benchmark, which has sued Kalanick for fraud and is attempting to wrest the board seats from his control.

"Kalanick's overarching objective is to pack Uber's Board with loyal allies in an effort to insulate his prior conduct from scrutiny and clear the path for his eventual return as CEO", read the complaint, which has been moved to private arbitration.

Photo John Thain, a former chief executive of Merrill Lynch and the New York Stock Exchange, was also added to the board by Mr. Kalanick.

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Khosrowshahi, who was the CEO of Expedia, an online travel company, was chose to be the new CEO of Uber in a series of internal board meetings, reports The New York Times.

The proposed governance changes that Kalanick opposes include changes to how the three board seats under Kalanick's control get filled - and it's unclear whether Kalanick's two new appointees will be able to vote on these changes themselves.

In his statement to Business Insider, Kalanick drops a strong hint that these appointments are a direct refutation of Benchmark's demands. 'That is precisely why we are working to put in place world-class governance to ensure that we are building a company every employee and shareholder can be proud of'.

Kalanick has called the lawsuit a "personal attack" and said Benchmark pressured him into resigning in June.

Kalanick resigned as CEO on June 20 after Benchmark and a group of early investors asked him to step down. The former CEO saw the two appointments as a way to improve the company's board of directors ahead of the impending vote on Uber's governance structure, the person said.

In July, Kalanick was forced out of the company over a number of controversies and mis-steps, including allegations of widespread sexual harassment against women throughout the company. There is no doubt the Board will be well-served by their valuable insights, counsel and independent perspective as Uber moves into the next phase of growth and prepares for a public offering.

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