Tech Industry

Kalanick calls investor suit a 'public and personal attack'

Uber's former CEO says he was victim of an "ambush" after the accidental death of his mother.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at LeWeb 2013

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says he was the victim of an "ambush" by early investors in the startup.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Travis Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber, says a lawsuit filed by one of the startup's early investors is a "public and personal attack" without merit.

Kalanick leveled the charge late Monday in a response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Delaware Chancery Court by venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, according to a copy of the lawsuit published by Axios. Benchmark's lawsuit alleged the ride-hailing company's co-founder hasn't acted in the interest of Uber's stockholders, employees, drivers and passengers.

"Benchmark Capital Partners initiated this action as part of its public and personal attack on Travis Kalanick," the filing says. "It executed its plan at the most shameful of times: immediately after Kalanick experienced a horrible personal tragedy."

The filing goes on to call Kalanick the victim of an "ambush" by Benchmark Capital, saying the venture capital firm took advantage of him just a week and a half after a boating accident killed his mother and seriously injured his father.

The filing alleges that Benchmark Capital principals "handed Kalanick a draft resignation letter, and told him he had hours to sign it, or else Benchmark would start a public campaign against him."

Uber has experienced a rough ride over the last few months. Once the ride-hailing powerhouse, a slew of scandals has led to the toppling of the company's upper management, including Kalanick, who resigned in June. Rumors have been flying over the last two weeks that Kalanick is plotting a return as CEO of Uber -- something the company flatly denies.

But if Benchmark wins its suit against Kalanick, he'd be removed from Uber's board and any chance of his reinstatement as CEO would likely disappear.

Benchmark couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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