Uber’s Machiavellian drama rumbles on.
The latest board-level spat involves early investor Shervin Pishevar, shareholder Benchmark Capital, and board member Arianna Huffington.
Pishevar, in a letter seen by Axios and Recode, has accused Benchmark Capital of trying to oust Arianna Huffington from Uber’s board. She has been on the board since last April, and the face of the company since its CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down, helping to oversee an internal investigation into its culture.
Pishevar wrote: “Based on a conversation with a representative of Lowercase Capital, we have learned that Benchmark also desires to remove Arianna Huffington from the Board of Directors and have made quite derogatory remarks about her.”
There are several layers to this. Lowercase Capital is another early Uber investor, but its founder Chris Sacca and Kalanick “barely speak”. Benchmark, meanwhile, is already in the news for suing Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick for alleged fraud. And in the background, Uber is trying to appoint a new CEO and deal with a massive legal fight with Google.
Pishevar said Uber’s other investors were “confounded” by Benchmark’s behaviour, both in terms of the lawsuit and the apparent plotting. He accused the firm of collaborating with Lowercase in “efforts that are adverse to Uber.” He said the two investors “co-ordinated” with an important ex-Uber staffer, global SVP of operations Ryan Graves, to announce his resignation on the same day as Benchmark’s lawsuit, maximising the bad publicity.
Pishevar added: “Benchmark is holding the company hostage and not allowing it to move forward in its critical executive search. The claim in your letter that your litigation efforts speed up on-boarding a CEO disingenuous or delusional.”
He concludes his letter by asking Benchmark to resign from Uber’s board, and accused them of blocking other potential investors from putting money into the firm.
According to earlier reports, Pishevar is trying to buy out Benchmark’s stake in Uber.