Oh, boy! Uber investors behind CEO sueball say Travis Kalanick won't let the company grow up

Benchmark's letter to employees details delaying action, trash-fire culture

Uber investor Benchmark Capital has written a letter to the company's employees in which it suggests the company's culture may be even more rotten than is widely known and that former CEO Travis Kalanick is obstructing efforts at reform.

The letter [PDF] opens by declaring “Uber is the most important and promising company of our generation” and adds that the firm's intervention to oust Kalanick was “a rare and extremely difficult step” undertaken only because “of a deep conviction that it would be better for Uber, its employees, and investors to have a fresh start”.

But the letter goes on to detail that Kalanick appears to be working against the firm's efforts.

“The search for a new CEO started over 50 days ago,” the un-signed letter says. “It was at the same time that Travis agreed in writing to modify the company’s voting agreement to ensure that the board was composed of independent, diverse, and well qualified directors. Despite agreeing in writing to sign these amendments, he has still not done so.”

That delay forced the firm's hand, the letter says, and made it resort to the lawsuit it fired off last week. Kalanick's inaction, the letter says, is making it hard to hire a new CEO and therefore worsening an already sub-optimal situation.

The letter also hints that the report into Uber's culture is even more damning than has been reported, but that efforts to change are hard without a new CEO and independent chair. The firm hopes that suing Kalanick will clear away obstacles to change.

A third argument points out that Uber has not employed a chief financial officer for the last two years, an oddity in a company of its size and doubly odd given it is burning through investors' cash at quite a clip. But as Benchmark feels that CEOs and CFOs work best as a team, it hopes forcing Kalanick's hand will make it possible to hire a CEO who in turn hires a CFO.

The letter wraps up by justifying the lawsuit on grounds that Uber represents a set of “unusual circumstances which required unusual action”. ®

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