Benchmark Capital Sues Travis Kalanick for Fraud

Dan Primack broke the story at Axios:

The battle between Benchmark Capital and Travis Kalanick just went nuclear, with the venture capital firm suing the former Uber CEO for fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. The complaint was filed earlier today in Delaware Chancery Court.

Key graph, per the suit: “Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber, to entrench himself on Uber’s Board of Directors and increase his power over Uber for his own selfish ends. Kalanick’s overarching objective is to pack Uber’s Board with loyal allies in an effort to insulate his prior conduct from scrutiny and clear the path for his eventual return as CEO—all to the detriment of Uber’s stockholders, employees, driver-partners, and customers.”

Recode’s Kara Swisher, two weeks ago:

To add to the drama: Some directors worry that its former CEO Travis Kalanick — who was ousted — is trying to game the outcome in his favor, after he told several people that he was “Steve Jobs-ing it.” It is a reference to the late leader of Apple, who was fired from the company, only to later return in triumph.

Compare and contrast the shocked and dismayed employee reactions after Kalanick stepped down as CEO — a move Benchmark also helped engineer — with the moves of investors and the company since he left: there clearly remains a modicum of confidence in Kalanick within Uber; there’s no confidence in him from outside parties.

Update: Of course, investors not having confidence in Kalanick doesn’t mean that investors have confidence in each other. A group of shareholders now wants Benchmark off the board for this lawsuit.