Benchmark Capital may have just given another Uber investor some legal ammo by filing a bombshell complaint against the company and its former CEO Travis Kalanick. Central to Benchmark’s allegations that Kalanick committed fraud and breach of fiduciary duty is Alphabet’s self-driving lawsuit against Uber.
According to the complaint, Kalanick did not disclose to the board what he knew about Alphabet’s allegations of trade secret misappropriation before the board signed off on Uber’s acquisition of self-driving startup Otto.
“In sum, the Waymo lawsuit presents significant legal, financial, and reputational risks to Uber — risks that could have been reduced or avoided if Kalanick had disclosed crucial facts about his own apparent knowledge at the time of the Otto acquisition,” the complaint reads. “Instead, as noted above, Kalanick repeatedly emphasized to [Bill] Gurley and others at the time that Uber’s acquisition of Otto and employment of Levandowski — who appears to have taken information from Waymo — would be transformative for Uber’s business.”
The timing of Benchmark’s complaint may prove to be material for Alphabet and its case as the company is scheduled to depose Benchmark partner and former Uber board member Bill Gurley at the end of the month. In deposing Gurley, as well as fellow board member Arianna Huffington, Alphabet is attempting to find out what the board knew about former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski’s alleged theft of important files.
Alphabet is claiming Levandowski stole 14,000 files from Alphabet before starting Otto, which Uber later acquired.
The complaint lays out in part what Gurley and the board knew and when, so it stands to reason that Alphabet will use it in its questioning of Gurley. The complaint further alleges that Kalanick tried to block the termination of Levandowski before he left, even after Alphabet sued the company. Alphabet has previously argued that Levandowski’s continued…