VC Firm Benchmark Capital Sues to Oust Kalanick From Uber's Board - Page 2

Another reason may be the uncertainty caused by the multiple legal actions Uber is fighting including sexual harassment complaints as well as this new lawsuit by Benchmark capital.

A new development emerged on Aug. 11, a day after Benchmark filed its lawsuit. A group of Uber investors began circulating a petition asking Benchmark Capital to divest enough Uber stock so that it would no longer be eligible for board membership, effectively asking that Benchmark to remove itself Uber’s board of directors.

The angst-filled email seeks sympathy for Kalanick who they imply was forced from his position during his bereavement after his mother died last May in a boating accident on a lake in Fresno, Calif. Kalanick's father was seriously injured in the same accident.

The shareholders are asking for a symbolic vote of the board on where they stand on the lawsuit. Meanwhile, the group is asking other shareholders to sign on to their petition. So far neither the board nor Benchmark has responded to the petition.

Benchmark Partners have a responsibility to perform due diligence to protect its investment. If the investment firm was so worried about Kalanick’s management style, his disregard for business ethics and complaints about a hostile work environment for women at Uber, the evidence has been apparent for a long time.

Instead, Benchmark appears to belatedly reacting to the public relations disaster that occurred when the details of Uber’s and Kalanick’s behavior became front page material.

Now the last female CEO candidate has dropped out and there is no end in sight for the executive search, Benchmark seems worried that Kalanick will present himself as the only choice to be CEO and his return would further damage the firm's investment in Uber and the potential value of an Uber initial public stock offering.

The other shareholder group, headed by investor Shervin Pishevar, seems to be so worried about the sad situation that exists with Kalanick's continued presence on the board it’s willing to indulge in yet more boardroom shenanigans to get its way. Group's heart-rending willingness to forgive Kalanick for all his shortcomings as CEO is pathetic and its stated fear about company goodwill is apparently not strong enough consider the potential loss of public goodwill if he remains on the board or even returns as CEO.

What’s really going on here is two groups of Silicon Valley billionaires are behaving badly to try to get their own way. This virtual stomping of feet and slamming of doors is really nothing but temper tantrums among folks with more money than apparent sense. Together they are hurting Uber nearly as much as the previous management regime.  

If they really were interested in the welfare of Uber and its thousands of employees and drivers, they would set aside their differences and find a way to assemble a world class management team that could put Uber's many troubles behind it.

To do that, they as a board need to not allow Kalanick to select the next CEO or management team. They need to stop this fight that will only further erode Uber’s market value and lead to its eventual failure as a going concern. But first both sides need to act like adults.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...