It looks like the battle over hiring Meg Whitman as the next CEO of Uber isn’t entirely over.
Early investor Benchmark sued Kalanick earlier this month, accusing him of undermining the CEO search.
Now, another Uber investor is firing back at Benchmark, charging that it’s the venture capital firm that’s undermining the company and that it remains determined to get its own favourite candidate, Whitman, into the CEO seat.
In a scathing letter sent Thursday to Uber’s board of directors, Shervin Pishevar, an early investor in the company, charged that Benchmark is attempting to overthrow the board to get its way (emphasis ours):
“Benchmark appears determined to insert its own candidate as CEO, Meg Whitman, prior to addressing any future issues, telling me that they ‘see no meaningful discussion without an acceptable CEO candidate being hired… uninfected by improper influences.’ The ‘improper influences’ here are Benchmark’s own efforts to control the company. They have no interest in reaching a peaceful accord which will allow this great company to grow even more, to recruit a world-class CEO, to secure further important funding. Clearly, they have a different agenda than ours.”
Pishevar wrote that he and a fellow investor are seeking to intervene in the lawsuit that Benchmark filed against Kalanick.
Whitman was on the short list for the CEO job but word is that she wouldn’t take it if Kalanick was to remain active in running the company. Although Kalanick resigned as CEO in June, he remained on the board and is still the company’s largest individual shareholder. After Whitman was chased away, Kalanick reportedly told several people that he was “Steve Jobs-ing it,” a reference to how the Apple co-founder was ousted from his company but later returned to lead it.
Jeff Immelt, the former CEO of GE who has been reported to be the new front runner for Uber’s top job, has reportedly not been as opposed to Kalanick retaining his influence.
The outcome of the struggle over naming a CEO could be determined in a Delaware courtroom. Should Benchmark prevails in its suit, it could curtail Kalanick’s involvement with the company and remove him from the board altogether. If that were to happen, the VC firm would have the upper hand, and Whitman could be back in the running.
This Game of Thrones at Uber may all play out fairly quickly. Uber originally promised to hire a new CEO by September, and Benchmark has asked for an expedited hearing on its suit.
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