The Waymo versus Uber case is yielding all sorts of interesting nuggets of information. Today, Waymo has alleged that Otto’s formation was actually part of a cleverly concocted plan that was formed by Uber and Levandowski. The motive of the plan was to hide the fact that Levandowski went to work for Uber, shortly after leaving Waymo.
Waymo presented a stock grant before the court that has a vesting date of January 28, 2016. The grant gives Levandowski over 5 million shares in Uber, shares that have a worth in excess of $250 million. That in itself wouldn’t constitute a crime, except that the stock grant was made a day after Levandowski resigned from Uber without any notice.
The cab aggregator argues that the stock grant was actually issued around the time of the Otto acquisition in August 2016. However, the deal was vested back to the formation of the startup. The company is claiming that it is a common practice for acquired startups. Now I am no expert on acquiring startups but that seems like a rather strange practice. And I don’t know if the judge would be terribly impressed with that argument — considering Levandowski’s already rather precarious position in the case.
Waymo has also presented various emails in the court that were sent between Uber executives and that discuss meeting with Levandowski and the formation of a new company that is refereed to as merely NewCo. As if that wasn’t murky enough, yet another e-mail from Uber’s Brian McClendon discusses a meeting with Levandowki that took place before his departure from Waymo. The e-mail states:
This list of deliverables is a high bar for sure. But then again so is what [Levandowski] is asking for in $$.
It should be noted that McClendon joined Uber from Google Maps and left the company a couple of months ago.
All this evidence is being presented before Judge William Alsup in a hearing in which Waymo is demanding an injunction against the cab aggregator. The Judge is taking all this with a pinch of salt though and according to TechCrunch, he remarked:
You didn’t sue [Levandowski], you sued Uber. What if it turns out that Uber is totally innocent? Let’s say they are totally innocent and the worst thing they did was pay a lot of money to hire a brilliant guy away from a competitor without realizing that he was downloading all this information?
We will have more information on the topic soon. Stay tuned!