More Drama for Uber as VC Firm and Shareholder Files Lawsuit

August 21, 2017 - 2 minutes read

It appears as if Uber might be closing in on a new CEO, General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt, but the drama that has kept Bay Area Android app developers gossiping about the company is far from over. If anything, it appears that a new chapter of chaos is beginning. The ride-hailing company’s seemingly unending run of controversies have pushed questions about startup governance (not to mention sexism in tech) into the mainstream. Despite the service’s enduring popularity, anybody who is paying attention sees Uber as something of a mess. If Immelt lands the CEO position, he has his work cut out for him.

The latest twist in the Uber soap opera is a lawsuit with Benchmark, the legendary venture capital firm. The New York Times reports that the investor, formerly an ally to Uber’s management, is suing the startup’s founder and ousted CEO Travis Kalanick for fraud and is trying to get him booted from the board. Android app developers familiar with Benchmark’s reputation in Silicon Valley as a low-key, encouraging partner for entrepreneurs and innovators are shocked by the firm’s bold actions. Benchmark, a 13% shareholder in Uber, was instrumental in getting Kalanick fired, but now it appear that it won’t rest until Kalanick is essentially exiled from the $70 billion unicorn he helped build.

In response, Kalanick filed legal documents claiming that Benchmark ambushed him after the death of his mother, calling their lawsuit “a public and personal attack.” Angel investor Shervin Pishevar, a friend to Uber, has publicly asked Benchmark to sell its shares and walk away from the board. Benchmark’s actions may seem like a pitiless power grab, but their claim that there are still skeletons in Uber’s closet that have yet to be uncovered sounds plausible to any Android app developers keeping up with the startup’s decidedly shady operations. Anybody who thought the worst was over for Uber needs to stay tuned.

Good luck, Mr. Immelt, should you have the good fortune to take the reigns.

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