Benchmark and Travis Kalanick no longer control a quarter of the company, reports Recode, but more like a fifth. This month Uber will consummate a series of changes to its power structure as it prepares to accept billions of dollars from the giant Japanese telecom, SoftBank.
The deal doesn’t just give early Uber investors and employees lots of money. It also transforms who calls the shots at the world’s most valuable startup. Just a year ago, Uber’s board numbered only seven — and a majority of them arguably were close allies of then-CEO Travis Kalanick.
The board grew last year after Kalanick was ousted — and this deal will again expand the size of the board, this time to 17 people. As you can see in the linkt to the Recode-article, power is now decentralized, with SoftBank holding two seats, Kalanick holding three, and six independent board members tipping the balance on key Uber decisions.
Here’s another way to look at it: Almost a quarter of the company used to be owned by Kalanick and Benchmark, the venture capital firm that filed a lawsuit against Kalanick and led the investor coup that removed him from the CEO chair. Now, thanks to the SoftBank deal, that proportion is down to about one-fifth of the company.
The governance changes that accompany the SoftBank deal also include the institution of so-called “one share, one vote” rule that will limit their voting power as shareholders. Now, the number of shares will directly correlate to the amount of decision-making power — which will disempower Benchmark and Kalanick alike.
The largest shareholder used to be Benchmark. Soon, it’ll be SoftBank.
- Who controls Uber?