Uber’s Kalanick names 2 new directors to company board
NEW YORK — Ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is naming two new directors to the ride-hailing app company’s board as part of an ongoing struggle with one of Uber’s major investors.
Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch and CIT Group CEO John Thain were named as directors in a Friday statement attributed to Kalanick, rather than Uber Technologies. Kalanick said the board needs a full complement of directors to consider major potential changes to the board as well as voting rights within Uber.
Burns was chair and CEO of Xerox from 2009 to 2016. She started at Xerox as an intern in 1980 and upon becoming CEO was the first black women to head a Fortune 500 company. She left Xerox after the company split itself in two following pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn.
Thain worked at Goldman Sachs for 25 years and became the company’s president in 1999. He was CEO of the New York Stock Exchange from 2005 to 2007 before he was hired by Merrill Lynch. He negotiated Merrill’s acquisition by Bank of America in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, but was criticized after the firm paid out $3.6 billion in bonuses to employees just before the deal closed.
Investors gave Kalanick the power to choose three directors last year, and in June, he appointed himself to the board after he resigned as CEO. His resignation came as the company faced lawsuits, increasing opposition from some regulators and mounting criticism over its corporate culture and allegations of sexual harassment. Several top executives stepped down around the time Kalanick relinquished the CEO title, as did board member David Bonderman, who made a sexist remark at an employee meeting. Twenty Uber employees were fired after a law firm investigated complaints of harassment, bullying and retaliation.
Benchmark Capital, which holds more than a third of Uber’s voting power, is suing Kalanick and says he concealed information about internal problems and a lawsuit facing Uber before he gained authority to fill board seats. Benchmark says it would not have voted to create the board seats if that information had been public. Kalanick says those allegations are baseless. In August a judge ruled that the lawsuit must be moved to private arbitration.
Benchmark Capital declined to comment.
In late August Uber hired Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO.