Uber investor lawsuit accuses Kalanick of rigging board

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Benchmark alleged in its suit that pertinent information was hidden from investors and that Uber's own CEO had known beforehand that Waymo might sue.

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.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been accused by one of his company's biggest investors of dishonoring the terms of his resignation.

Benchmark's suit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, seeks to have Kalanick removed as a director by reversing the board-expansion decision.

The suit revolves around a decision past year to increase Uber's board from eight seats to 11, with those additional three seats in the sole control of Kalanick. Since Kalanick had the power to choose the seats, he allotted one to himself, as he lost his CEO position. 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.

A spokesperson for Mr Kalanick said the legal action is "completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations".

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It is rare for a venture firm to sue the central figure of a valuable portfolio company, and equally unexpected for investors to make a countermove to push out a fellow investor backing the same company.

Benchmark's lawsuit and the group's retaliation come as two of the latest in Uber's series of turmoil, both in the media and in its internal proceedings.

"It has been publicly reported that Kalanick's behaviour has already interfered with Uber's CEO search: various potential candidates have withdrawn from consideration because of Kalanick's continued participation in the search and his efforts to re-assert influence over the company", Benchmark said in its complaint.

"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. At a time when thousands of employees around the world are working hard to serve our drivers and riders and continue to innovate, our priority remains to select Uber's new CEO as quickly as possible.

The letter's lead author Pishevar, a close friend of Kalanick, griped that Gurley filed the Thursday lawsuit "on a few hours' notice and within weeks of a personal tragedy, under threat of public scandal". Uber has vowed to implement the recommendations prepared for it by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. "Despite rumors I'm sure you've seen in the news, Travis is not returning as CEO". That revelation's impact was somewhat lessened by the fact that Graves would remain as a member of the board.

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