Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Exec At Center Of Waymo Lawsuit Was Apparently A Perfect Fit For Uber's Culture

The headline/sub-head combo pretty much defines sleazy corruption. 

From the International Business Times:

Waymo vs Uber: Ex-Google driverless car exec allegedly 'spent years secretly creating rival company'
Lawsuit also claims Anthony Levandowski was paid $120m by Google before leaking 14,000 documents to Uber.
The former head of Google's self-driving car project was paid $120m (£96m) by the internet search giant while secretly setting up a rival company, before stealing trade secrets and taking them to Uber, a new court filing claims.

The legal documents, released on 3 April, claim Anthony Levandowski spent more than three years quietly developing his own self-driving truck company, Otto, which he would later sell to Uber for a reported $680m. Lewandowski is accused by Google of downloading 14,000 confidential documents onto a USB stick and taking them to Uber, which is then claimed to have used the intelligence to create its own autonomous car technology.

Levandowski, Google claims, earned the $120m in "incentive payments...all while he was breaching his obligations to Google and building a company that would compete with Google". The engineer is also accused of being involved with one of two competing firms he helped Google investigate.

Newly unsealed court documents also reveal that a second Otto employee is implicated in the lawsuit brought by Waymo. Due to redaction errors where the second person's first name was redacted in one mention, but only his surname was redacted in another, he has been revealed as the other Otto co-founder, Lior Ron.

The claims of Levandowski secretly working on his autonomous truck company as far back as 2012 have come to light less than a week after he claimed his Fifth Amendment rights, whereby he can refuse to speak in court due to the risk of incriminating himself.

But US District Court Judge William Alsup has other ideas, saying on 30 March: "If you think for a moment that I'm going to stay my hand because your guy is taking the Fifth Amendment and not issue a preliminary injunction to shut [Uber's autonomous technology testing] down...you're wrong,"...

Forbes has some more details:

Uber Executive At Center Of Google Lawsuit Allegedly Tied To LiDAR Rivals
The scope of allegations in Waymo’s high-profile lawsuit against Uber and its driverless truck unit OTTO, claiming theft of Google technology by the rideshare company, keeps widening.

The Alphabet Inc. unit, formerly Google’s Self-Driving Car project, claims Uber executive Anthony Levandowski, an ex-Google engineer, took trade secrets related to its LiDAR laser sensors with him to Uber. Now it turns out that Levandowski also may have had ties to competing laser sensor makers while still at Google, something he didn’t disclose to his former employer, according to documents filed with the U.S. district court in San Francisco that’s hearing the case. Uber acquired OTTO, co-founded by Levandowski, last year for $680 million.

Exhibits filed with the court by Uber said “Google is now informed and believes that, during Levandowski’s tenure at Google he was involved in competing side businesses.” Those businesses, Tyto Lidar and Odin Wave, were developing a LiDAR sensor module for self-driving cars, as was Google. The two small companies later combined and were acquired by OTTO in May 2016, according to the court filing.

“Google is now informed and believes that Levandowski had some involvement with Odin Wave/Tyto since at least 2013 at the same time that he was working on Google’s development of LiDAR sensor modules,” Waymo attorneys said in the filing....MORE