Uber CEO to meet London transport boss as ban looms

Uber CEO to meet London transport boss as ban looms

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.

The board's decisions mean that Uber, valued at almost $70 billion and closely watched by other start-ups, may have defused - at least temporarily - another fractious situation. Benchmark led a board revolt to oust Kalanick as chief executive officer, and directors are divided about what role Kalanick now should play.

Benchmark said it never would have granted Kalanick control over the additional seats had it been aware of the "gross mismanagement of Uber and several other significant matters", according to the complaint. The reforms appear to be created to take power away from former chief executive Travis Kalanick, who resigned in June following pressure from shareholders over sexual harassment claims and other scandals but remains on the board.

In addition to the corporate governance changes, which will eventually see all shareholders receiving one vote per share of stock they own, regardless of the class, Uber also chose to move forward with an investment from the Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank.

Kalanick also cheered Tuesday's board vote, despite its intention to curtail some of his power. It's not clear whether the pair will join the board, though at least one current director believes the group will embrace Kalanick's appointees, a person familiar with the matter said.

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The board set up incentives which will likely prompt Uber, the world's most valuable startup at an estimated $69 billion, to conduct an initial public offering by fall 2019.

An earlier proposal floated by Uber and Goldman Sachs had called for additional moves that would have diluted Kalanick's influence.

Uber and Transport for London, which oversees much of the city's public transport system, issued separate statements after the meeting between Khosrowshahi and Mike Brown, London's transport commissioner. Travis appointed two new members to Uber's Board without discussing it with me or the Board of Directors more broadly. "Further steps in this process will take place over the coming weeks", a spokesperson said. Though unlikely to make all the concessions sought by fellow board members, Kalanick has shown willingness to cut supervoting rights in the name of strengthening governance, one of the sources said. Kalanick has been engaging with Khosrowshahi in hopes of finding a compromise that will unify the board.

In a statement provided by Kalanick's side, the former Uber boss seems to have taken the news well.

The last time Uber's board went into such heated deliberations, it was weighing two high-profile candidates to replace Kalanick as CEO: General Electric Co's Jeffrey Immelt or Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co's Meg Whitman.

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