A board member took advantage of the death of Travis Kalanick’s mum to oust him, investor accuses

Uber investor Shervin Pishevar revealed a lot more details on Thursday about the infighting going on within Uber’s board.

In a biting letter to the board of directors, Pishevar accused investor and board member Benchmark of taking advantage of the personal tragedy in Travis Kalanick’s life to oust him as the company’s chief executive.

He’s referring to a boating accident in May that killed Kalanick’s mother and injured his father.

Kalanick was on a leave of absence from Uber in June when a contingent of investors, lead by Benchmark, demanded his resignation. This demand came after the company was embroiled in months of scandals — from allegations of a toxic work culture, to a major lawsuit over its autonomous car technology.

Benchmark then sued Kalanick earlier this month, claiming he was interfering with the search for a new CEO and had a secret agenda of getting himself reinstated.

In the letter, Pishevar takes Benchmark to task, writing (emphasis ours):

Conduct so completely at odds with Benchmark’s fiduciary duty cannot be left unanswered, particularly at this terrible time for Mr. Kalanick and his family. We all owe a huge debt to Travis and his team for their tireless work in imagining, creating, and building Uber. I know how proud Bonnie Kalanick was of her son’s work, and it is an affront to her memory which we cannot silently tolerate that her passing should become the occasion for a secretive and personal assault on her son by those who, by sheer dint of his hard work and determination and that of his team, he has made wealthy beyond all their other investments

Pishevar has remained in Kalanick’s corner and says he has filed a motion to intervene in that lawsuit, along with fellow investor Steve Russell.

Benchmark board member Bill Gurley has not responded to our request for comment. But Benchmark has previously justified its lawsuit in an open letter to employees, saying that Kalanick’s behaviour “was utterly unacceptable.”