Uber’s CEO Pick Adds Pressure To Resolve Boardroom Brawl

Published 5 years ago

Uber’s divided board managed to agree on one thing over the weekend: Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi should be the company’s new CEO. An official announcement is expected soon.

As of now, there are no signs that a bitter lawsuit pitting two of Uber’s largest shareholders – both of them board members – against each other, is nearing resolution. And that is odd, since it seems unlikely that Khosrowshahi, who is said to be ready to accept the job, would want to jump into the middle of a war for control of the company.

Yet on Monday, the dispute between Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick and venture capital firm Benchmark showed no signs of abating. In a new court filing, Kalanick accused Benchmark of drawing out its lawsuit only to “publicly slander” his character.

“Benchmark desires to publicly attack Mr. Kalanick, and to peddle its allegations to the media, but that conduct is directly contrary to the interest of Uber, as announced by its Board of Directors,” the court filing said.

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On August 10, Benchmark sued Kalanick for fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty and breaches of contractual obligations.

As part of the suit, Benchmark wants the court to nullify a June 2016 agreement that created three additional board seats. It also wants the former CEO to be removed from the board and banned from participating in the search for his replacement.

While the two sides are still fighting over whether or not the case should be sent to arbitration, Benchmark’s argument that Kalanick is interfering in the CEO search is now a mute point.

Khosrowshahi will already have his hands full with Uber’s other litany of problems, from repairing an internal culture to a lawsuit against Waymo over self-driving car technology that’s scheduled to go to court in a month. Having to clean up the board mess would be an unwelcome distraction.

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Also on Monday, Travis Kalanick ally and early Uber investor Shervin Pishevar, who on Friday decided to insert himself in the legal case, celebrated Khosrowshahi with a dig at Benchmark.

“I applaud the Board’s decision to make Dara Khosrowshahi the next CEO of Uber, and we are gratified that Benchmark did not succeed in subverting the CEO selection process,” Pishevar said in an statement. – Written by