A complaint filed today in Delaware spells more bad news for Travis Kalanick, the Uber founder and former CEO who lost his title this year after widespread rot was exposed at the company. Benchmark Capital, which owns 13 percent of the $70 billion company, is suing Kalanick for fraud, and breaches of fiduciary and contractual duties stemming from revelations this past year.
According to the complaint, which was first reported by Axios, the dispute comes down to three new board seats that Uber added last year. Benchmark says that it would not have approved the additional seats, which Kalanick controls, had they known about Uber’s multitude of issues. That includes widespread sexual harassment, programs explicitly designed to skirt around government regulation, and the ongoing court case between Uber and Google concerning the alleged theft of trade secrets related to self-driving cars.
A spokesperson for Kalanick called the lawsuit “completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations” when speaking with Axios.
Following Kalanick’s resignation, he appointed himself to one of the three new board seats (the seat he formerly occupied is specifically for the CEO). The other two remain unfilled. Benchmark is seeking to invalidate the June 2016 vote that established the three seats, and in doing so, remove Kalanick from the board entirely. It’s a very rare move for a VC firm to try to remove a founder from the board. If they succeed, it would dash almost any hopes of Kalanick’s plan to “Steve Jobs” his way back into the company.