Travis Kalanick, former Uber Technologies Inc. chief executive officer, said he appointed Ursula Burns, Xerox Corp.’s former CEO, and John Thain, the ex-Merrill Lynch chief, to the startup’s board.
Kalanick is defending himself against a civil lawsuit brought by Uber’s largest shareholder, Benchmark, over his authority to appoint the two board seats. Kalanick says he controls three of the company’s eleven board seats. Benchmark is suing Kalanick for fraud and has asked him to relinquish control of those board positions. The suit is in private arbitration.
[Update: Recode published a statement from Uber about the board appointments. “The appointments of Ms. Burns and Mr. Thain to Uber’s Board of Directors came as a complete surprise to Uber and its Board,” Uber stated. “That is precisely why we are working to put in place world-class governance to ensure that we are building a company every employee and shareholder can be proud of.”]
Kalanick resigned as CEO on June 20 after Benchmark and a group of early investors asked him to step down. Uber’s board has been rife with infighting and underwent a contentious process to select former Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new chief. It was not immediately clear Friday afternoon if Khosrowshahi supports Kalanick’s decision to fill the two board seats.
“I am appointing these seats now in light of a recent board proposal to dramatically restructure the Board and significantly alter the company’s voting rights,” Kalanick said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. “It is therefore essential that the full Board be in place for proper deliberation to occur, especially with such experienced board members as Ursula and John.”
By Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg