Uber's boardroom warfare continues: Vote would further hobble Travis Kalanick

  • Uber's boardroom warfare continues: Vote would further hobble Travis Kalanick

Uber's boardroom warfare continues: Vote would further hobble Travis Kalanick

Sensing his control of the situation slipping away, Kalanick sprang into action on Friday evening and used his power to appoint two new friendly board members-Ursula Burns, the former chief executive of Xerox, and John Thain, the former chief of Merrill Lynch.

"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", read the complaint, which has been moved to private arbitration.

The proposal, which is set to be discussed by directors on Tuesday, includes measures that would shift the power on Uber's board by reducing Mr. Kalanick's voting clout, expanding Mr. Khosrowshahi's powers and imposing a 2019 deadline on the company to go public, according to three people with knowledge of the proposal who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Until earlier this year, Ursula was Chairman and CEO of Xerox, while John was formerly CEO of CIT Group, Merrill Lynch, and NYSE. He controls two unused board seats, which he was supposed to give up when he agreed to resign this summer.

The new CEO called the move by his predecessor "disappointing" in an internal email to employees, Bloomberg reports. Their backgrounds include successfully leading large public companies as chief executives and chairs, navigating dynamic, technology-powered and regulated industries, and guiding tens of thousands of employees around the world.

Because of the proposal to reduce voting rights, it is "essential that the full board be in place for proper deliberation to occur", Kalanick said in a statement.

But behind the scenes, Kalanick and Uber's board continued to wrestle over who had control of the privately held company through the amount of stock they owned and the voting rights those shares conferred. Kalanick himself is facing a lawsuit from Uber investor Benchmark Capital.

This latest wave of drama started late Friday, when Kalanick - kicked out by the board in June - made a surprise announcement. Last month, Uber installed a new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, and the company appeared to be trying to get past a turbulent period that included questions about its culture and changes in its top echelons.

Kalanick cited the corporate experience of Burns and Thain in making the appointments, according to techcrunch.com, and noted that both "have engineering degrees and are incredibly talented and proven problem solvers". The board has 11 members in total. Any former officer of the company would require two-thirds vote of support from shareholders and the board.

"I am confident that, with their additions and Dara's appointment", he continued, "Uber will be well situated to focus on the future and continue to revolutionize how cities move".