Benchmark Capital punched back Thursday against a bid by ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to quash Benchmark’s credibility, escalating the conflict in what has become Silicon Valley’s preeminent drama.
Benchmark, an Uber board member that is suing Kalanick after removing him from the top job, said in a new court filing that Kalanick’s attorneys “do not dispute the overwhelming factual basis” that Kalanick defrauded Uber’s board and deems his defense to be “facile.”
“Nothing in Mr. Kalanick’s papers challenges the factual premises of Benchmark’s Complaint,” the venture capital firm’s legal team wrote. “Instead, Mr. Kalanick simply seeks to divert Benchmark’s claims into private arbitration, a move that should be rejected for the reasons set forth in Benchmark’s answering brief in opposition to Mr. Kalanick’s motion to dismiss.”
If the case is moved to arbitration, Kalanick would be able to avoid a deposition that could publicly weaken him and force him on the record. The Delaware Court of Chancery judge overseeing the case, Samuel Glassnock, said in a separate filing on Thursday that the first hearing on the arbitration request would be held in Georgetown, Del., on Aug. 30.
Benchmark has also argued that they need immediate action — including Kalanick’s removal from the board even as the case is being heard, an outcome that Kalanick has resisted. Uber’s board is currently trying to choose his successor as CEO.
“This measure is necessary to ensure the integrity of Uber’s Board’s decision-making, including the ongoing CEO search, where the new CEO must be approved by a majority of the Board,” the Benchmark attorneys wrote. “Expediting this action and entering a status quo order are necessary to ensure Uber is protected from Mr. Kalanick’s corrosive influence and can promptly obtain the new leadership it needs to move forward.”
The new document also served as reminder of just how personal and tense the upcoming lawsuit could prove to be. The 10-page filing routinely jousts Kalanick’s personality, leadership and his team’s competence, for instance calling his lawyers statement of facts “largely irrelevant.”
A spokesman for Kalanick lamented Benchmark’s “personal attacks.”
“Benchmark’s suit relies on meritless, personal attacks against Travis Kalanick that have no basis in law or fact. Benchmark’s shameful tactics and unfounded claims punish Uber, its employees and its investors at a critical time when the company most needs stability and leadership.”
Kalanick’s lawyers have sought to portray the venture capital firm as bullying at a time when Kalanick was grieving the death of his mother. Benchmark led an investor coup just a few weeks after his mother’s fatal boating accident, an incident that eventually caused Kalanick to take some personal leave from the CEO job.
But Benchmark on Thursday argued that Kalanick was not quite so powerless and meek at the time he resigned from the job, saying that he was still directing how Uber would respond to a report on sexual harassment at the company and was interviewing candidates to be Uber’s chief operating officer.
“The facts show that despite Mr. Kalanick’s personal tragedy and statement that he was taking personal leave, he continued to give directions and remained extensively involved with Uber,” Benchmark’s lawyers wrote.
Here’s the full filing:
Benchmark vs. Travis Kalanick by Teddy Schleifer on Scribd
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.