Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark Capital and an early investor, became increasingly concerned about Uber’s tactics and activities. Bloomberg reports that he worried his firm’s investment in Uber, at that point nominally worth billions of dollars, could go to zero.
Shervin Pishevar, one of the earliest investors in Uber, resigned from his investment firm (and hence ended his affiliation with Uber) in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct. He denied the allegations.
In November 2017, Bloomberg reported that five women had accused Pishevar of using his position to make unwanted sexual advances.
Japanese holding company SoftBank offered to purchase shares of Uber at a $48 billion valuation, a 30% discount from Uber’s most recent valuation of $68.5 billion. The key news causing the discount was the set of scandals that arose during 2017 — broadly, those summarized on this site.
The transaction ultimately went forward at the 30% discount.
In litigation challenging various Uber misconduct, plaintiffs point out that Uber’s investors have begun to mark down their investments in the companies. Vanguard and T. Rowe Price reportedly marked down their shares by as much as 15%. Plaintiffs say that Uber’s loss in market capitalization was at least $18 billion.
In a lawsuit, the Irving Firemen’s Relief & Retirement Fund alleges that Uber and its former CEo Travis Kalanick knowingly misled them while raising funds, including failing to disclose that the company had broken laws.
The lawsuit chronicles a variety of Uber improprieties including “Greyball” evasion of law enforcement, “Hell” tracking of rivals, allegations of intellectual property theft from Google, sexual harassment and other human resources violations, knowingly renting out recalled and unsafe vehicles, and theft of a passenger’s medical records.
The lawsuit seeks class-action treatment for Uber investors.
In response to a Delaware lawsuit by Uber investor Benchmark Capital Partrners, other investors in Uber asked Benchmark to sell its shares and step down from Uber’s board. Full letter from the other investors. In part:
We do not feel it was either prudent or necessary from the standpoint of shareholder value, to hold the company hostage to a public relations disaster by demanding Mr. Kalanick’s resignation, along with other concessions … Accordingly, we would request that Benchmark help the Company realize its full potential by allowing the necessary work to be done in the Board Room rather than the Courtroom.
Axious summarized the situation: “It was shocking enough for a major venture capital firm to sue the CEO of a highly-valuable portfolio company. For other VC firms to then make this sort of counter-move against a peer is similarly unprecedented. It’s a brave new world in Silicon Valley.”
In a lawsuit, Uber investor Benchmark Capital alleged that former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is interfering with Uber’s CEO search. Benchmark says “various potential candidates have withdrawn from consideration because of Kalanick’s continued participation in the search and his efforts to re-assert influence over the company.” In a letter to Uber employees, Benchmark explains the impact of Kalanick’s actions:
Travis’s failure to make good on this promise, as well as his continued involvement in the day-to-day running of the company, has created uncertainty for everyone, undermining the success of the CEO search. Indeed, 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.
In a Delaware complaint, Uber investor Benchmark Capital Partrners challenged “the fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and breaches of contractual obligations perpetrated by” former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick “to entrench himself on Uber’s Board of Directors and increase his power over Uber for his own selfish ends.” The lawsuit focused in part on Kalanick’s “fraudulently obtain[ing] control” of three new seats on Uber’s boards through “his material misstatements and fraudulent concealment … of material information” that would have led Benchmark to reject the request.
Benchmark said Kalanick engaged in “gross mismanagement and other misconduct” which it summarizes as follows:
Kalanick’s personal involvement in causing Uber to acquire a self-driving vehicle start-up that, according to a confidential report not disclosed to Benchmark at the time (the “Stroz Report”), allegedly harbored trade secrets stolen from a competitor; an Uber executive’s alleged theft of the medical records of a woman who was raped by her Uber driver in India; a pervasive culture of gender discrimination and sexual harassment that ultimately prompted an investigation by the former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and a host of other inappropriate and unethical directives issued by Kalanick.
Benchmark said Kalanick “knowingly concealed these matters from” it and other investors.
Benchmark explained its approach and its concerns in a letter to Uber employees.
In a statement, Kalanick replied: “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.”
Kalanick moved to send the lawsuit to arbitration, avoiding a deposition that Recore said could have been “damaging.” On August 30, 2017, the Court agreed, ending the public litigation docket and putting all further proceedings in confidential arbitration.