Benchmark Capital, one of Uber’s largest investors, is trying to explain its legal feud with former CEO Travis Kalanick to the ride-sharing company’s employees. Benchmark sued Kalanick for fraud last week, adding another controversy to the company’s already disastrous summer.
In an open letter to Uber employees, Benchmark slammed Kalanick’s leadership of the company and said that he was purposely hindering the board’s search for a replacement CEO. The firm also criticized Uber’s slow response to the a report compiled by Eric Holder and Tammy Albarrán on harassment within Uber, and the stagnant search for a chief financial officer that has dragged on for more than two years.
“It has appeared at times as if the search was being manipulated to deter candidates and create a power vacuum in which Travis could return,” the unsigned letter reads.
Other Uber shareholders led by Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital have vehemently opposed Benchmark’s lawsuit. Pishevar and his supporters have argued that Benchmark’s actions are destroying the value of their investments in Uber. Benchmark’s lawsuit aims to force Kalanick off the board of the company he founded.
“It’s easy to reduce this situation to a battle of personalities. But this isn’t about Benchmark versus Travis. It’s about ensuring that Uber can reach its full potential as a company. And that will only happen if we get rid of the roadblocks and distractions that have plagued Uber, and its board, for far too long,” Benchmark wrote in its letter. “Failing to act would have meant endorsing behavior that was utterly unacceptable in any company, let alone a company of Uber’s size and importance.”
Benchmark’s letter also makes reference to the allegations contained in the Holder report, which have yet to become public. Benchmark says that Uber has yet to start working on some of the recommendations laid out in the report, including coming up with new cultural values for the company. “To describe it as hard-hitting would be an understatement,” Benchmark wrote.
Gizmodo reached out to Uber and Pishevar for comment and will update with their responses.
Update 8/14 at 3:47 p.m.: Kalanick has responded to Benchmark through a spokesperson. Here’s his statement given to the New York Times:
Like many shareholders, I am disappointed and baffled by Benchmark’s hostile actions, which clearly are not in the best interests of Uber and its employees on whose behalf they claim to be acting. Since 2009, building Uber into a great company has been my passion and obsession. I continue to work tirelessly with the board to identify and hire the best CEO to guide Uber into its next phase of growth and ensure its continued success.
Update 8/14 at 5:30 p.m.: An Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company is on track to fulfill the recommendations of the Holder/Albarrán report on time, and isn’t lagging behind as the Benchmark letter suggested. Uber has rolled out a feedback tool for employees to submit suggestions for new cultural values and, once it gets a new CEO, that person will be in position to implement them. Changes to Uber’s performance review process are also underway.