Why Benchmark May Want to Cash Out of Uber


A group of Uber investors has now come to the defense of ousted CEO Travis Kalanick after one of its largest investors, Benchmark, sued the former CEO for allegedly rigging the company's board seats to eventually return as its CEO.

Other Uber shareholders led by Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital have vehemently opposed Benchmark's lawsuit. In the letter, which Recode obtained, Pishevar claims that Benchmark is working with another major investor Lowercase Capital in its effort to remove former CEO Travis Kalanick from the board.

A third argument points out that Uber has not employed a chief financial officer for the last two years, an oddity in a company of its size and doubly odd given it is burning through investors' cash at quite a clip.

Benchmark, in its letter to Uber employees, tried to reassure them about the company's future in the midst of its internal turmoil and Benchmark's own lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Kalanick responded to the Benchmark letter. An early investment of $27 million made in Uber by Benchmark was now estimated to be worth some $8.4 billion.

Recently discovered court documents - filed by Benchmark - also noted Kalanick was aware of "Greyball", a programme allowing drivers to avoid authorities in areas the service was banned.

Benchmark holds a seat on Uber's board, and supported the decision at the time.

Many investors and shareholders are confounded by Benchmark's behavior regarding Uber Technologies. Benchmark claims Kalanick failed to sign off on policies that would bring more diverse and independent directors to the board, and he and the company's leaders have yet to appoint an independent chairperson, reform Uber's cultural values or enable a new "tone at the top".

All this in addition to a suit from Waymo, Google's autonomous vehicle division, alleging that intellectual property from Waymo was stolen and used by Uber's own self-driving researchers. The venture capital firm says that would harm Uber's shareholders, employees, drivers and customers.

Please leave the employees alone and let them be at peace so that they can continue to build a a great company without these unnecessary obstacles.

Recode, describing Pishevar as a Kalanick loyalist, recounted on Friday, Aug 11, that Pishevar and other investors had called on Benchmark to sell its Uber shares and exit the company board.

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