Former Uber CEO Says Investor Lawsuit a ‘Public and Personal Attack’

Former Uber CEO Says Investor Lawsuit a 'Public and Personal Attack'

The ousted chief executive of Uber Technologies called a lawsuit filed against him by one of the company’s top investors a “public and personal attack” without merit, according to court documents filed late on Thursday.

Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which says it owns 13 percent of Uber and controls 20 percent of the voting power, sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last week to force him off the board, where he still has a seat, and rescind his remaining power there, citing fraud and deception.

Kalanick, in the first court filing in response to the lawsuit, said Benchmark’s legal action is part of a larger scheme to oust him from the company he helped found and take away his power. He also argued that the legal quarrel should take place in arbitration.

ALSO SEEUber Investor Benchmark Capital Says Gave Former CEO Kalanick a Month Before Suing

Benchmark’s lawsuit marks a rare instance of a well-regarded Silicon Valley investor suing the central figure at one of its own, highly successful startups. The case has stunned Silicon Valley’s venture capital community and created a divided Uber board and infighting among shareholders, many of whom have criticised Benchmark for suing.

At issue is a change to the board structure in 2016 to expand the number of voting directors by three, with Kalanick having the sole right to fill those seats.

In its lawsuit, Benchmark argues that Kalanick hid from the board a number of misdeeds, including allegations of trade-secret theft involving autonomous car technology and misconduct by Kalanick and other executives in handling a rape committed by an Uber driver in India, when he asked Uber’s board to give him those extra seats.

Benchmark says it was “fraudulently induced” to agree to the change and wants Kalanick to give up control of those seats.

Kalanick’s court filing rejects that allegation, saying that at the time of the board change “Benchmark was fully aware of all of the allegations involving Kalanick”, yet the firm “made no mention of having been ‘fraudulently induced’ to enter” into the agreement. Through May, the venture firm continued to support him. Then in June, Benchmark was part of a group of five investors who demanded Kalanick’s resignation as Uber’s CEO.

“The Benchmark principals also handed Kalanick a draft resignation letter, and told him he had hours to sign it, or else Benchmark would start a public campaign against him,” the court filing said.

Benchmark first backed Uber in 2011 with an investment of $12 million, according to court filings. With 13 percent ownership at the $68 billion valuation that Uber achieved last year, Benchmark’s stake would be worth almost $9 billion.

“Resorting to litigation was an extremely difficult step for Benchmark,” the firm said in a statement through a spokeswoman. “Failing to act now would mean endorsing behavior that is utterly unacceptable in any company, let alone a company of Uber’s size and importance.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Apple CEO Promised 3 New US Plants, Says President Trump: Report

Apple CEO Promised 3 New US Plants, Says President Trump: Report

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple has promised to expand manufacturing in the US with 3 new plants
  • Cook in May announced the creation of an Apple fund
  • Apple has 80,000 employees in the US and plans to hire thousands more

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that US President Donald Trump said Apple has promised to expand manufacturing at home with three new US plants.

The Journal quoted Trump as saying that Apple chief executive Tim Cook committed to building “three big plants,” in the United States.

No details were provided, and Apple did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

Cook in May announced the creation of an Apple fund to get more people in the US to do “advanced manufacturing,” kicking it off with a billion dollars.

Apple building plants in the United States would come as rare common ground with Trump.

Cook has pointed out that Apple spent more than $50 billion (roughly Rs. 3,22,155 crores) in the United States last year – buying from suppliers such as Corning Glass, working with developers behind applications for the California company’s devices and more.

Apple has about 80,000 employees in the US and plans to hire thousands more “in the future,” according to Cook.

It is a sign of Apple’s success but also a thorny problem: a cash stockpile topping a quarter of a trillion dollars, sparking debate on what do with such massive reserves.

The tech giant has resisted the idea of bringing the cash home, because the US tax code allows multinational firms to defer profits while they are held overseas but taxes income at up to 35 percent when repatriated.

Trump vowed while campaigning that he would force Apple to bring production to US soil.

Apple is not in the same position as automakers which relocated US factories overseas to cut costs, IHS manufacturing processes chief analyst Dan Panzica told AFP earlier this year. Apple never moved jobs offshore, it created them there.

“The Apple jobs were never here,” Panzica said.

“The entire supply chain grew in China.”

Apple benefits in Asia from a network that goes beyond subcontractors assembling smartphones, tablets or laptops. The firm relies on a dense ecosystem of companies that make components and spare parts for its devices as well.

China also offers sources of important raw materials, along with cheap, flexible and abundant labor to keep iPhone assembly lines cranking along.

It would be challenging to replicate that situation with US workers without using more robotics, undermining the political aim of creating jobs here, according to some analysts.

Moving iPhone manufacturing to the US would also likely push up costs, which is not in Apple’s interests.

It was seen as more likely that Apple would make a symbolic move to appease Washington, such as investing more in making Mac Pro computers here, or in a facility for higher-priced, limited-edition devices such as an “anniversary edition iPhone” to mark the handset’s 10th birthday this year.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Amit Shah calls for linking education with India’s ‘cultural ethos’, says distortions will soon be removed

New Delhi: BJP president Amit Shah pitched for linking the country’s education system with its cultural ethos to remove “distortions” as he termed dynasty politics, casteism and minority appeasement as “cankers” affecting the country.

File image of Amit Shah. AFP

File image of Amit Shah. AFP

“All distortions in our education system will be removed and the entire system of learning will further improve if we connect it with our core values, with our cultural ethos,” he said while speaking at the launch of the book on the speeches of the party’s ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee.

While elucidating Mookerjee’s initiatives on education, Shah described him as a “visionary leader” who laid emphasis on the education system which is connected with the basic fundamentals of our society and promotes natural talent. “Mookerjee emphasised on these two points specifically so that education can become a mass movement in the early years of independence as the literacy rate was very low then,” the BJP president said.

Mookerjee founded the right wing nationalist party Bharatiya Jana Sangh which later evolved as the BJP.

Shah said the seed sown then by Mookerjee has become a “huge tree” today. “Mookerjee started the party with 10 members which now has a huge base of about 11 crore members,” he said.

He said the BJP is following Mookerjee’s principles to work on the path of nation building unlike other political outfits which have promoted casteism, minority appeasement and dynasty politics in the country. “These three are cankers which are affecting our
country,” he said.

Lauding the BJP ideologue’s role in nation building, Shah rued that “historians have not done justice with him”. Mookerjee saved Bengal by pushing for partition of the united Bengal before Independence, otherwise the entire state would had become east Pakistan and later Bangladesh, he said.

Not only this, in the case of Kashmir, he also led a mass movement to end the permit system for entering the northern state, Shah added.

[“Source-firstpost”]

SoundCloud Says It Has Enough Cash to Last Until Fourth Quarter

SoundCloud Says It Has Enough Cash to Last Until Fourth Quarter

SoundCloud, the world’s biggest music-streaming service, is still struggling to find a business model – it now has enough cash to last until fourth quarter, after laying off 40 percent of its staff, a representative said on Thursday.

The Berlin-based start-up is different from rivals Apple, Spotify, and Amazon in that it relies more on amateur musicians, for whom it provides a rare platform, and less on major commercial artists.

But like them, it has yet to turn a profit. The big music labels on which most of the services depend – themselves under pressure from the shift to digital music – strike hard bargains.

And SoundCloud – which said three years ago it had an audience of 175 million, a figure it has not updated – lacks either Spotify’s large base of paying subscribers or the deep pockets of Apple and Amazon that can subsidise their music services.

Last week, SoundCloud said it was firing 173 staffers and closing its London and San Francisco offices to focus on Berlin and New York. “We’re on our path to profitability and in control of SoundCloud’s independent future,” co-founder Alex Ljung wrote in a blog post.

Technology website TechCrunch reported, however, that staff were told at a meeting this week that the layoffs only saved the company enough cash to hold out until the fourth quarter.

A spokeswoman the SoundCloud declined to comment on the TechCrunch article in depth. She did say, “SoundCloud is fully funded into the fourth quarter. We continue to be confident the changes made last week put us on our path to profitability and ensure SoundCloud’s long-term viability.”

She declined to comment on funding beyond the end of the year.

The news has reignited speculation that SoundCloud will be acquired by a rival. It was targeted by Spotify last year in a bid that was later aborted.

Spotify, recently valued at $13 billion, is now planning a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange later this year or in early 2018, sources told Reuters in May.

“The biggest problem I see is that the financial problems will absorb much of management’s time in trying to raise more money, meaning that the real problems of the business go unaddressed,” independent technology analyst Richard Windsor wrote in a note.

“Of all the potential suitors, I think Google makes the most sense,” he said, noting SoundCloud’s similarity to Google’s YouTube in its focus on user-generated content. “Google will probably be most able to monetise what SoundCloud cannot.”

SoundCloud, which was launched in 2008 and has never said how many paying subscribers it has, last month launched a budget subscription package in the hope of persuading more listeners to convert from the free service.

SoundCloud raised $100 million last June from a group of investors including Twitter, valuing the company at roughly $700 million (roughly Rs. 4,510 crores), according to Re/code.

In March, it raised a further $70 million in debt from Ares Capital, Kreos Capital and DavidsonTechnology to meet its expected 2.5 times year-on-year revenue growth in 2017, a company spokeswoman said.

Co-founder Alex Ljung said in a public interview at the Tech Open Air conference in Berlin this week that the company was fundraising, although he declined to comment on a rumour it was trying to raise $250 million (roughly Rs. 1,610 crores).

[“source-gadgets.ndtv”]