The Business Times

Lyft board members discussed replacing CEO, court documents reveal

Published Sat, Nov 8, 2014 · 01:51 AM

[SAN FRANCISCO] Lyft board members had discussed replacing current chief executive officer Logan Green, who was not aware of those talks, according to Lyft's former chief operating officer in a court filing obtained by Reuters on Friday.

Ex-COO Travis VanderZanden eventually left Lyft and became vice president of international growth at rival car service Uber. Lyft sued VanderZanden earlier this week, alleging he improperly kept Lyft's proprietary information after leaving the company, including financial projections.

VanderZanden denied those allegations in the court filings on Friday and disclosed additional details about his August departure. "Unbeknownst to Green, I was engaged in discussions about future options for the CEO position at Lyft with various members of Lyft's board of directors, including the possibility that I would replace Green as CEO of Lyft," VanderZanden said in the filing.

He did not say how he knows Green was ignorant of those discussions.

Lyft spokeswoman Erin Simpson said Green was aware of VanderZanden's approaches to two board members, both venture capital investors, about becoming CEO. The two VC board members, Geoff Lewis of the Founders Fund and Scott Weiss of Andreessen Horowitz, both declared their support for Green on Friday.

Mr Weiss called VanderZanden's allegations "patently false" and said he had never held private discussions with him about replacing Green. Mr Lewis said they "would never entertain plans to forcefully remove a CEO." Lyft, whose cars sport giant pink moustaches, is growing fast as on-demand car rides become more popular in urban centers across the country. It remains one of the more visible symbols in Silicon Valley of the so-called on-demand economy, where people call up services at the touch of a smartphone button.

But Lyft has had to grapple with far larger rival Uber, which was valued at US$18.2 billion in June and is said to be more aggressive in courting drivers and undercutting competitors on price.

VanderZanden said he notified Green and Lyft President John Zimmer, both board members, in August of his decision to resign. The CEO talks continued, and in a bid to induce VanderZanden to remain, Green and Zimmer offered VanderZanden a seat on the board, the filing said.

After that offer, however, VanderZanden said Lyft locked him out of his email, and he left the company. Uber announced his hiring in October.

Lyft asked a San Francisco judge to issue a temporary restraining order preventing VanderZanden from disclosing any of Lyft's proprietary information. In a statement, Lyft said that as a result of its request, VanderZanden surrendered all of his personal devices and promised to preserve all files and documents. "We will continue the litigation process to protect our confidential documents and interests," Lyft said.

Representatives for Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did VanderZanden.

The case in Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco is Lyft Inc vs. Travis VanderZanden, 14-542554.



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