Co-founder of Uber Technologies Inc., Travis Kalanick has fired back at investor Benchmark. He said that their lawsuit aimed at ousting him from the board of the ride-hailing company is based on a ‘fabrication’ and also accused them of using intimidation and threats. The venture capital firm holds about 13% stake in Uber and Kalanick has decided to up the ante in his fight with them. He asserted that a secret campaign was carried out by Benchmark for removing him from the firm. On Friday, documents were made public in Delaware Chancery Court in which Kalanick claimed that Benchmark had executed their plan in June, which was highly shameful, as this was immediately after his mother’s death in May.
Benchmark is an early Uber backer and their relationship with Kalanick has deteriorated considerably in recent months. He was sued on August 10 by Benchmark and the venture capital firm claimed that he had duped them into allowing him to fill three seats of the board. Benchmark stated that Kalanick was seeking to add his allies to the panel so he could stay on as director after he resigned from his position of chief executive officer in June. They further said that Kalanick had hidden his ‘gross mismanagement’ of the firm and they cited the numerous Uber scandals in evidence.
Due to a number of controversies, which included an investigation by the US Justice Department about the use of technology for deceiving enforcement officials, a lawsuit with the self-driving car business of Alphabet Inc. and claims about the workplace being hostile towards women, Kalanick had been pressured into resigning. In court papers, the founder claims that he resigned under duress as Benchmark had threatened to begin a public campaign against him. He said that less than two weeks after his mother’s death, Benchmark principals had visited him at his Chicago hotel room.
According to the filing, they had given him a draft resignation letter and told him that he had an hour to sign it. The letter contained a provision which suggested it was a ‘contractual undertaking’ and Kalanick had demanded that it be removed. In court papers, his lawyers have said that he had relented ultimately and signed due to his emotional state. The claims of fraud made by Benchmark were defined by Kalanick as a ‘fabrication’ and said that they had been aware of all the events they have included in their claim.
In a filing, the former CEO requested that the case be stayed in favor of arbitration or dismissed. Previously, his lawyers had said that claims made by Benchmark are subject to a mandatory arbitration provision included in the voting agreement, which is the center of the lawsuit. It was also argued by his lawyers that when a threat of legal action had been made by Benchmark, they had stated that it would in the form of arbitration demands. They said that the reason behind the change was only known by Benchmark. Kalanick was described as a good CEO in court papers, one who had made money for his investors.