Uber Investors Vow to Intervene in Benchmark Lawsuit Against Travis Kalanick
Uber investors Shervin Pishevar and Steve Russell say they will intervene in the lawsuit being waged against former CEO Travis Kalanick by venture capital firm Benchmark, also a major shareholder in the ride-hailing company.
Pishevar claimed in a Thursday letter to the board—published by Business Insider—that he and Russell had “no choice” given that Pishevar and other investors had failed to convince Benchmark to step down from the board and divest a significant proportion of its shares in Uber.
Kalanick resigned as Uber CEO in June following a family tragedy, but also while under pressure over various scandals at the company. He remains on the board, though, and Benchmark earlier this month sued in an attempt to get rid of him. The VC firm claims Kalanick duped them into filling three of Uber’s board seats with his allies.
Kalanick called the suit a “fabrication,” but on Thursday Benchmark doubled down by asking a Delaware court to stop him from filling two board seats that are currently vacant.
In his Thursday letter, Pishevar said Benchmark had refused to meet him to discuss the spat, but had been “more than willing to talk to others, inappropriately, and in violation of their fiduciary duty.” He claimed the firm had leaked confidential details from former attorney general Eric Holder’s report into sexism at the company, he accused Benchmark of “conferring with Lowercase Capital [another Uber investor] with respect to adverse action against Uber,” and he alleged that Benchmark principal Kris Fredrickson had secretly helped lure Uber CFO Gautam Gupta to another company.
Pishevar also said Benchmark had been behind the potential candidacy of Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman for Uber’s top post. Whitman has categorically denied being in the running for the role, the front-runner for which is outgoing General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt.
Benchmark has “no interest in reaching a peaceful accord which will allow this great company to grow even more, to recruit a world-class CEO, to secure further important funding,” Pishevar wrote. “We are seeking to intervene in the lawsuit because if Benchmark insists on trying to use the courts to try to take over this company, we are committed to doing everything we can to try to stop this abuse.”