GIVING ME 8 MILLION REASONS
Am I still annoyed about the eight million Uber threw down in 2016 to convince Austinites to keep the company around? As my northern relatives say (and not as frequently as I’d like them to), you betcha. It’s a grudge I could let go of since other ride sharing companies have since taken their place, but where’s the fun in that?
Especially since Uber keeps providing such entertaining material. So now it comes time for one of my favorite activities: reveling in Uber’s continuing melodrama of legal issues. Although at this point, it’s really just centered on ousted CEO Travis Kalanick’s ongoing mishaps.
SO WHAT’S NEW?
Silicon Valley venture firm Benchmark, an early investor in Uber, is suing the former CEO. The Delaware Chancery Court filing alleges Kalanick committed breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. Haha oops.
However, apparently Kalanick has been going around telling people he’s “Steve Jobs-ing it,” referring to Job’s triumphant return after being fired. Benchmark alleges Kalanick attempted to pave the way for his return by packing Uber’s board with “loyal allies.”
REMIND ME WHAT HAPPENED
In June 2016, Uber’s board of directors expanded from eight to eleven people. Kalanick was given the power to choose who would fill those seats. And oh hey, he picked himself after losing his CEO status.
The other two seats remain unfilled.
Benchmark claimed they would have never let Kalanick pick if they had been aware of the scope of his misdeeds. Which include but are not limited to: sexual harassment allegations, toxic corporate culture investigation leading to several executive departures (including Kalanick), a patent lawsuit with Google’s self-driving car project Waymo, and a handful of criminal probes.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Right now, Uber is valued at $70 billion, making it the most valuable private company. Benchmark and Travis Kalanick are currently the largest shareholders.
Benchmark is one of Silicon Valley’s top venture firms, whose team includes noted investor Bill Gurley. Typically venture capitalists operate on a “founder friendly” principal when competing to invest, but Kalanick is a trailblazer. Unfortunately for him, he’s no longer on a positive trajectory.
If Benchmark wins this lawsuit, Kalanick could be kicked off the board of directors without hope of returning. It surely won’t be the last we hear from him, but maybe this will finally put Kalanick’s time at Uber to rest.