A principal at Benchmark is quietly decamping to a competing firm, the first public departure since the storied venture capital firm launched a controversial lawsuit against the former CEO of its most valuable portfolio company, Uber.
Kris Fredrickson, the Benchmark principal, is taking a job next month at the hedge fund Coatue Management. The job move amounts to a promotion, but Fredrickson is also a character in Benchmark’s legal and public relations fight against former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
While Fredrickson is not one of the firm’s general partners, he found himself embroiled in the Uber conflict last month when one of Kalanick’s closest allies, Uber investor Shervin Pishevar, alleged that Fredrickson was willing to harm the $70 billion company in order to staff other startups that he allegedly backed.
“Benchmark principal Kris Fredrickson helped recruit Gautam Gupta, the head of finance and effectively the acting Uber CFO, to another company where he owned shares without ever informing Uber,” Pishevar alleged in a letter to Uber’s board of directors last month. “In fact, Frederickson told his partner and Uber board member Bill Gurley six months earlier, but Gurley never told Travis Kalanick, exacerbating the crisis facing the Company in May 2017 when Gupta left.”
Benchmark has denied any wrongdoing.
“Thrilled for @krisfredrickson to join Coatue as Partner. Terrific opportunity. Grateful for all Kris has done for @benchmark!” Benchmark said in a series of tweets after this story was published. “Can’t wait to work with @krisfredrickson and Coatue on more companies in the future!”
It is, in general, somewhat rare for an investor to leave a prestigious, tight-knit and small venture firm like Benchmark. But Benchmark principals like Fredrickson typically only work one or two years at the firm before moving onto other roles elsewhere, according to a person familiar with the move.
Coatue is an investor in Uber’s top U.S. competitor, Lyft, but Fredrickson is not expected to focus on solely ride-hailing investments, according to a person with knowledge of his hire. Fredrickson will be elevated to a partner at Coatue, and the job negotiation talks predate the recent drama between Benchmark and Uber, the person said. Coatue declined to comment.
Fredrickson joined Benchmark in April 2016, according to his social media pages, and co-founded the skincare company Curology. He previously worked as a senior vice president at Munchery, and before that spent six years at Goldman Sachs working on tech deals.
Benchmark’s lawsuit has sharply divided Silicon Valley, with some arguing that the extraordinary action was necessary to rein in a meddlesome former CEO, while others cast Benchmark partners as overly greedy investors. But the lawsuit has harmed the firm’s reputation for being friendly to founders, according to at least some entrepreneurs.
Since that letter, Benchmark’s lawsuit against Kalanick has been sent to private arbitration.
Clarification: The story was updated to clarify details of Fredrickson's position at Benchmark, according to sources.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.