Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has filed a response to Benchmark Capital’s fraud lawsuit against him, saying its claims depend substantially on "information and belief," and not specific instances that detail fraud, reports Axios. The filing at the Delaware Chancery Court states that Benchmark “executed its plan at the most shameful of times: immediately after Kalanick experienced a horrible personal tragedy." Kalanick’s mother was killed and his father was seriously injured in a boating accident in May.
In the filing, lawyers for Kalanick wrote that “Benchmark does not allege a single false statement by Kalanick ... rather than pleading particularized facts to support its claims [it only offers] citations to unverified media reports and allegations in other lawsuits.” Benchmark Capital is one of Uber’s most influential investors and largest shareholders. It funded tech darlings like eBay, Instagram, and Snapchat while those companies were still in their early stages.
The firm filed a lawsuit against Kalanick for fraud earlier this month. The suit revolves around a vote in June last year to increase the number of the board’s voting directors from eight to 11, with Kalanick having the power over who would have voting rights.
According to Axios, Benchmark has asked for a preliminary injunction that would remove Kalanick from the company’s board and lock him out of the company’s search for a new CEO. There’s been recent reports that Kalanick has been “meddling” in this search, in part because he wants his old position back. Kalanick argues the dispute should be settled by an arbiter, and there’s no need for an injunction. “There is no uncertainty regarding the validity of actions approved by a majority of the board,” his reply says. “Nor is there any other independent, impending source of potential harm to the company or its stockholders."
Another factor in the suit is that Benchmark says Kalanick had agreed to give up three unfilled board seats he controlled when he resigned. Kalanick argues that his agreement was that of the three seats: he would receive one, while the other two would be at the board’s discretion.
“Benchmark repeatedly acknowledged ... that Kalanick has the right to appoint three directors, including himself. Benchmark cannot now avoid that result through threadbare allegations of fraud,” Kalanick’s reply reads.