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A group of Uber shareholders sent Benchmark Capital a letter asking the firm to step down from the board of directors and to divest its shares, Axios reported. The letter was written in response to a lawsuit Benchmark filed against ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and the company on Thursday.
The key thing to understand is some of the investors are Kalanick loyalists such as Sherpa Capital’s Shervin Pishevar and Yucaipa Companies’ Ron Burkle. Maverick’s Adam Leber has also signed the letter.
Kalanick has been trying to mount a comeback to leadership after he was pushed out as CEO. He’s told several people he’s “Steve Jobs-ing it,” a reference to the late leader of Apple, who was fired from the company only to later return in triumph.
In the letter, Uber shareholders condemn Benchmark’s decision to “hold the company hostage” by forcing Kalanick to step down a few weeks ago and attempting to remove him from the board with a lawsuit.
The letter reads in part:
“Specifically, we do not feel it was either prudent or necessary from the standpoint of shareholder value, to hold the company hostage to a public relations disaster by demanding Mr. Kalanick’s resignation, along with other concessions, on a few hours’ notice and within weeks of a personal tragedy, under threat of public scandal. Even less so your escalation of this fratricidal course – notwithstanding Mr. Kalanick’s resignation – through your recent lawsuit, which we fear will cost the company public goodwill, interfere with fundraising and impede the critical search for a new, world-class Chief Executive Officer. Benchmark has used false allegations from lawsuits like Waymo as a matter of fact and this and many actions has crossed the fiduciary line.
This group of shareholders further asks Benchmark to cede its ability to appoint new board members by divesting their shares.
To this end, at this point, in light of your suit against the Company, we believe it would be best, and hereby request, that Benchmark remove its representative from theCompany’s Board and move promptly to divest itself of enough shares in the Company so as to cease to have Board appointment rights. We have investors ready to acquire these shares as soon as we receive communication from Benchmark that they are willing to withdraw their lawsuit and sell a minimum of 75% of their holdings.