Sci-tech

Uber Ex-CEO Travis Kalanick Names Directors in Power Play

Uber Ex-CEO Travis Kalanick Names Directors in Power Play”

Uber's board has been rife with infighting and underwent a contentious process to select former Expedia Inc.

The decision came over two months after Kalanick stepped down from the position. Early investor and board member Benchmark Capital said that it wouldn't have granted Kalanick this privilege if it had known about the various allegations of sexism and law-breaking at Uber. In a statement, Kalanick named former Xerox CEO and chairwoman Ursula Burns and John Thain, former CEO of CIT, Merrill Lynch and the New York Stock Exchange to the board of directors.

"The appointments of Ms. Burns and Mr. Thain to Uber's board of directors came as a complete surprise to Uber and its board", the company said.

"That is precisely why we are working to put in place world-class governance to ensure that we are building a company every employee and shareholder can be proud of", Uber said.

Uber's largest shareholder, Benchmark, has taken legal action against him, challenging his authority to fill the two board seats. Those two seats are at issue in Benchmark's lawsuit, presumably for this exact reason.

Kalanick resigned from Uber in June after facing criticisms on his mode of leadership amid a series of scandals - including sexist workplace abuse, "greyballing", a controversial mishandling of a rape case, and a high-stakes trade secret theft lawsuit with Waymo - it was facing at the time and continues to face today. Uber is also facing fierce opposition from various regulators, most recently in London where officials have refused to renew its license.

Kalanick still owns about 10% of the company, including so-called "super-voting shares" that give him about 16% of the voting rights of Uber. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new chief.

Uber expressed concern at Kalanick's announcement. Ursula and John are two highly accomplished corporate leaders with extensive board experience. Both Ursula and John have engineering degrees and are incredibly talented and proven problem solvers.

"I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this hard moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight", he said.

Recode's sources said Kalanick's move was fueled by Khosrowshahi's proposal to eliminate shares with more voting power and shift to a structure in which one share is equivalent to one vote. It is therefore essential that the full Board be in place for proper deliberation to occur, especially with such experienced board members as Ursula and John.

This decision comes as Uber and its investors are negotiating a multi-billion dollar deal with Japanese investment firm SoftBank and follows the company's appointment of Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO last month.



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