Sunday, June 25, 2017

Alphabet says Travis Kalanick knew one of Uber’s acquisitions had taken Alphabet files

Our thinking was that Uber was not just aware but was complicit. From May 19's Thrown Under The Autonomous Bus: "Uber Threatens to Fire Engineer at Center of Waymo Lawsuit":
The testimony thus far sure makes a prima facie case that Uber and Levandowski were in cahoots, that there was an actual conspiracy. If that proves to be the case this move is simply thieves falling out....
And March's Remember that time Uber's Kalanick said having autonomous was crucial to the company's very survival? (a deep dive):
Combine Kalanick's statements and the corporate culture he created with the fact the central figure in the Waymo lawsuit was in contact with Uber before he left the Alphabet company's autonomous efforts  and even a dull-witted paralegal could make a case for conspiracy,
And that would threaten Uber's existence....
Here's the latest, from Recode:
Uber has also been ordered to produce a key document in the case.

Alphabet is asking a judge to find Uber in contempt for failing to notify the court that former CEO Travis Kalanick was aware one of his top executives had proprietary Alphabet information in his possession and that he ordered its destruction. 

The executive, Anthony Levandowski, allegedly told Kalanick and two other employees in March 2016 that he had five discs containing Alphabet documents, several months before the ride-hail company acquired his startup, Otto.

Levandowski, who had previously led Alphabet’s self-driving car project, has been accused of stealing technology and taking it to Uber. 

Judge William Alsup recently ordered Uber to produce documents and correspondence related to the case, including information showing whether any evidence had been destroyed. On Wednesday, Alphabet cited a June 5 Uber court filing that shows Kalanick asked Levandowski to destroy the documents in question. Uber had to present the information by March of this year but didn’t report its findings until June.

Uber’s June 8 filing reads:
On or about March 11, 2016, Mr. Levandowski reported to Mr. Kalanick, Nina Qi and Cameron Poetzscher at Uber as well as Lior Ron that he had identified five discs in his possession containing Google information. Mr. Kalanick conveyed to Mr. Levandowski in response that Mr. Levandowski should not bring any Google information into Uber and that Uber did not want any Google information. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Levandowski communicated to Uber that he had destroyed the discs.
This was around the same time that Levandowski began consulting for Uber’s self-driving arm, as we reported.

The ride-hail company maintains that none of these documents made it to Uber and that Kalanick did not encourage Levandowski to bring the files to the company, a condition that was also included in his employee agreement. On May 30, Uber fired Levandowski, who pleaded the Fifth Amendment earlier in the case, for not complying with the court’s orders. 

Uber was also directed by the court to produce a report from Stroz Friedberg, a forensic firm that Uber had hired to conduct a due diligence report on Otto before the acquisition.....MORE
That Stroz Friedberg report was the one referenced as 'dirty laundry' a couple weeks ago:

Double Hit To Uber: Judge Alsup Denies Uber’s Request for Stay, Gives Waymo Fatherly Advice; Magistrate Judge Corley Approves Waymo Request to Peek at Dirty Laundry:
...The due diligence report “likely contains information that is responsive to many of the questions Mr. Levandowski refused to answer," Waymo argued in a court filing. "Indeed, the withheld report may be the only source of much of this information."

Corley reviewed the report privately and told lawyers at a May 25 hearing that it’s important to the case. Waymo argued that because the report was produced by a cyber-security firm and not by lawyers, attorney confidentiality doesn’t apply. The company also contended the document doesn’t qualify for privacy protection because it may reveal fraudulent or criminal wrongdoing.

“You can’t claim a privilege over huddling together about what to do with stolen documents,” Waymo’s attorney, Charles Verhoeven, argued at the hearing. “There is very clear evidence that stolen documents were known about and were retained and continued to be held. And that in and of itself is a crime.”