Uber's power politics: Travis Kalanick appoints two new board members

CIOL Writers
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Uber's boardroom battle is far from over as Travis Kalanick's recent appointments of two new directors at the ride-hailing company seems to have escalated the tensions in the boardroom.


Kalanick announced last weekend that Ursula Burns, a former chief executive of Xerox, and John Thain, a former Merrill Lynch chief, would join the board immediately, filling two vacant seats he controls. Bloomberg reports that new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called the appointments a "complete surprise." The move was apparently in response to a proposal from Khosrowshahi, backed by Goldman Sachs that would rework the company's corporate governance and rein in Kalanick’s voting powers.

"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. 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,” Kalanick said in a statement.

Uber's response was pretty strongly worded too- "The appointments of Ms. Burns and Mr. Thain to Uber's Board of Directors came as a complete surprise to Uber and its Board. 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."

Uber's board has become deeply divided since investors ousted Kalanick as chief executive in June, and after Benchmark, a major investor, sued him in August in an attempt to strip him of his control of the seats.