Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick attacked the “hostile actions” of one of the company’s largest investors, speaking out for the first time since a bombshell lawsuit last week sought to oust him from the board of the company he cofounded.
Kalanick said he was “baffled” by the lawsuit brought by Benchmark Capital, an early Uber investor that now alleges the former CEO committed fraud.
A representative for Kalanick sent the statement to Business Insider, which was first reported by Axios’ Dan Primack:
“Like many shareholders, I am disappointed and baffled by Benchmark’s hostile actions, which clearly are not in the best interests of Uber and its employees on whose behalf they claim to be acting. Since 2009, building Uber into a great company has been my passion and obsession. I continue to work tirelessly with the board to identify and hire the best CEO to guide Uber into its next phase of growth and ensure its continued success.”
The suit centres on Kalanick creating three additional seats on Uber’s board of directors in 2016. Kalanick appointed himself to one of the seats after resigning as CEO while the other two, which Kalanick has the right to fill, remain vacant.
Benchmark said in the suit it would not have approved the board expansion had it been aware of the controversy surrounding Kalanick and Uber’s workplace issues, accusing the CEO of packing the board with supporters. Benchmark, led an $US11 million Series A investment in the company, is calling for Kalanick’s removal from the board.
Kalanick’s representative has said the suit is “without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations.”
Uber has been under fire following allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the company. The ride-hailing giant is also being sued by Waymo, Google’s sister company, over claims it stole intellectual property to advance its autonomous-car development.
Five of Uber’s major investors forced Kalanick to step down in late June. Benchmark was reportedly one of the loudest voices calling for his removal.