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Uber's Travis Kalanick sued by major investor Benchmark

Just when things couldn't get worse, they do. Board member and early investor sues the former CEO for fraud.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is being sued by Benchmark, one of the company's early investors.
James Martin/CNET

One of Uber's early investors has sued the company's former CEO Travis Kalanick for fraud.

Benchmark Capital filed a complaint in Delaware Chancery Court on Thursday alleging the ride-hailing company's co-founder hasn't acted in the interest of Uber's stockholders, employees, drivers and passengers. It also says Kalanick failed to disclose to the board "gross mismanagement," including "pervasive gender discrimination and sexual harassment." Axios first reported this news.

"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," the complaint reads.

Uber declined to comment. Neither Benchmark nor Kalanick could be reached for comment.

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. Earlier on Thursday, Ryan Graves, the company's first employee and senior vice president of global operations, said he was stepping down too. Uber is actively searching for a new chief executive.

Not only is Benchmark Capital one of Uber's early backers, it also holds a seat on the company's board. Initially, Benchmark investor Bill Gurley held the seat but after reportedly leading the effort to ouster Kalanick as CEO, his seat was replaced by another member of the venture capital firm. Kalanick also holds a seat on the board.

Rumors have been flying over the last week that Kalanick is plotting a return as CEO of Uber. The company flatly denied that's happening. 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.

In the meantime, Benchmark is asking for a preliminary injunction against Kalanick and his involvement on Uber's board.

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