Uber Technologies co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick ignited a new power struggle on Friday when he named two new members to the company’s board of directors raising new questions about his role.
Investors at Uber are divided about Kalanick, who received pressure to resign his CEO position earlier in 2017 following a number of scandals at the company, being on the board or not and if he can name two new directors.
The new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and the company are scrambling to show Uber as a new reformed business that has responded to the concerns that included claims of sexual harassment and a bribery probe in the U.S.
Kalanick, who remains one of the company’s largest shareholders, announced through a statement that he appointed former CEO at Xerox Ursula Burns a former CEO at Merrill Lynch John Thain as new directors.
He said in the statement that he was appointing the new directors due to a recent proposal by the board to dramatically restructure it and significantly change the voting rights of the company.
Therefore he said it was essential the complete board in place to have proper deliberation, especially with board members with such experience like John and Ursula.
The appointments came as a big surprise and that was why it said it was putting together a governance that is world-class to ensure a company is being built that every shareholder and employee are proud of, said a prepared statement released by the company.
One investor who is a supporter of Kalanick, Ron Burkle the managing partner for Yucaipa Companies, praised the new board appointments calling Thain and Burns high-quality, smart people.
Division amongst investors at Uber exploded publicly last August when a lawsuit was filed by Benchmark Capital to force Kalanick from the board and rescind the ability of him to fill a pair of board seats.
Yucaipa as well as other investors at Uber defended Kalanick while asking Benchmark to divest its share and to step down from Uber’s board.
Later that same month, a judge in Delaware stayed the lawsuit by Benchmark and moved it to arbitration, which pushed the dispute from public view and delivered a victory to Kalanick.
On Friday, the action by Kalanick could face a legal challenge, as Benchmark along with other investors at Uber could try to block the two appointments by asking the judge to issue a status-quo-order. Last month a request was not granted by the judge.