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Benchmark Ratchets Up Fight Against Uber Co-Founder Kalanick

August 24, 2017, 6:22 PM UTC

Venture-capital firm Benchmark asked a Delaware judge to temporarily block Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick from filling two vacant company board seats, claiming his interference hampers the search for his successor as chief executive officer.

Kalanick, who resigned as CEO in June but remains a board member, “continues to interfere with critical decisions at Uber,” including the executive search, Benchmark said Thursday in court papers filed in Delaware Chancery Court. Benchmark sued Kalanick earlier this month accusing him of duping the firm to gain access to three additional board seats.

In its filing, the firm asked the judge to bar Kalanick from filling the seats while the lawsuit is pending, saying the block is needed so that he doesn’t cast a decisive vote on any matter involving Uber’s board as the holder of the third disputed seat, including the CEO search.

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“It has been widely reported that Mr. Kalanick’s behavior has caused potential CEO candidates to withdraw from consideration,” Benchmark said in the filing. “Mr. Kalanick’s actions are chilling the search process and threatening harm to Uber (and Benchmark’s investment) by keeping a Uber a ‘leaderless, and therefore foundering, corporation.’”

The suit is the latest development in an escalating battle between Kalanick and Benchmark, one of Uber’s early investors which holds a 13 percent stake. One of the firm’s partners, Bill Gurley, led the effort to oust Kalanick as CEO. Kalanick resigned after a series of controversies, including allegations of sexual harassment by his employees and the use of software designed to bypass regulators.