What Is Benchmark Capital, the VC That Sued Uber?
If you are curious about Benchmark Capital, the venture capital firm that on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Travis Kalanick, the recently departed CEO of ride-hailing firm Uber — one of Benchmark’s own investments — don’t look for any information on the web. The firm’s home page has links to Google maps to its two northern California offices and a link to its Twitter account (@benchmark).
What you’ll find on the Twitter page are the names of four general partners in the firm — Kevin Harvey, Bruce Dunlevie, Eric Vishria, Matt Cohler — and the two venture partners — Scott Belsky, Richard Barton — along with three other team members — Alok Vasudev, Alexandre Balkansi and Steve Spurlock.
According to Crunchbase, Harvey and Bob Kagle are the firm’s founders, and Kagle is also listed as a general partner. Wikipedia also lists Dunlevie and Andy Rachleff as co-founders of the firm, which launched in 1995.
In addition to the general partners listed on Benchmark’s Twitter account, Wikipedia also names Peter Fenton, Bill Gurley, Mitch Lasky and Sarah Tavel as general partners.
The firm hit the spotlight this week with its lawsuit in Delaware’s Court of Chancery. It is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for a venture firm to sue one of its own companies. According to the complaint, Uber is named as “nominal defendant … for the sole purpose of ensuring that the Court can grant appropriate relief….” Benchmark is really mad at Kalanick, and the reasons for that are spelled out by Kara Swisher at Recode.
Benchmark said it made its first investment in Uber in February 2011 and currently holds approximately 13% of the ride-hailing company’s stock along with control of 20% of Uber’s voting power, about 36% of the company’s preferred stock voting power and approximately 0.5% of Uber’s Class B common stock. Benchmark also had one seat on Uber’s board.
As recently as Monday, Benchmark was boosting Uber’s future without Kalanick:
In addition to its investment in Uber, Benchmark was an early investor in Snap, Twitter, GrubHub, Yelp, Zillow and eBay. The venture capital firm also has invested in dozens of firms that were acquired, including Instagram (Facebook), Vudu (Walmart), Ariba (SAP) and OpenTable (Priceline).