undergroundnewsroom.com February 24, 2018

Uber CEO wooing back London officials amid turmoil behind the scenes

06 October 2017, 12:40 | Gordon Grant

Two rights at Uber in danger of making a wrong

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

The Uber Technologies Inc. board convened for a pivotal meeting Tuesday afternoon to decide whether to go forward with a massive investment deal with SoftBank Group Corp. and potential limits on ex-CEO Travis Kalanick's power.

Kalanick, who was pressured to resign in June as head of Uber, retains sizable voting rights in the privately-held company due to his "super-vote" shares.

Uber is scheduled to go public in 2019, after a shakeup to the company's board of directors was agreed last night.

Kalanick's control of the board seats, as well as the supervoting shares that give him and other early investors more votes than others, has been challenged by Benchmark Capital, one of Uber's other large investors. Softbank wants to buy shares privately from Uber executives and its early investors, ... One being expanding the board of directors in the company from 11 now to 17 directors.

In a statement issued by his representative, Kalanick said the board's unanimous vote marked "a major step forward in Uber's journey to becoming a world class public company".

Fulfilling some earlier rumours, the Uber board voted to strip certain shareholders, including Kalanick and early Uber investor Benchmark, of the enhanced voting rights baked into the two types of company stock - preferred and class B shares, the New York Times reports.

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On Tuesday, Khosrowshahi - who has apologized to Londoners for the firm's mistakes- will meet TfL's Commissioner Mike Brown in a bid to fix a fraught relationship between the regulator and the taxi app, which has prompted strong opposition from unions and traditional taxi drivers over working rights. However, after corporate governance proposals were presented last week, he made a decision to exercise his right to appoint Burns and Thain.

John Colley, of Warwick Business School, professor of Practice in the Strategy and International Business group has commented: "Uber has a major cultural problem which has been found to be sexist, macho and lacks concern for regulation of nearly any sort". Two of the new directors would be named by SoftBank, if that deal closes, while the other four would be independent, including an independent chair.

The moves are expected to end a legal fight between Kalanick and Benchmark. The board has now reportedly been enlarged to 17 members, up from 11. The governance plan the board approved was a compromise.

Uber's relatively new boss - Dara Khosrowshahi - following the rejection of the license, acknowledged the problems that had led up to this moment, but vowed to address them fully and quickly. At least half the board and half of shareholders would need to approve his appointments, however.

Khosrowshahi is juggling the requests from TfL while a boardroom battle simmers back in San Francisco with former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.

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