The veil of controversy still continues to engulf Uber and the situation, honestly, continues to slip away from the ride-hailing giant’s grip.
On the heels of the revelation that the company’s big-time investors have ousted founder Travis Kalanick from his chief executive role, an extremely demeaning evidence of Uber having knowledge of Waymo’s secrets being in possession of former Googler and their former self-driving project head, Anthony Levandowski, has been presented in the court. The regulatory filing presented in front of the judge mentions that he fled the search giant with discs of confidential information — five to be exact.
According to the filing, Levandowski approached Uber’s former chief executive Kalanick with these five discs of information, ahead of the Otto acquisition, which closed in August earlier last year. While the former may have tried convincing the latter to accept confidential info about Google’s self-driving efforts, which have now been spun-off into Waymo, Kalanick then denied the offer and had asked Levandowski to destroy the discs and not bring them over to Uber.
BREAKING: Uber knew as early as March 2016 (pre Otto acquisition!) that Levandowski downloaded Waymo info, per a new court filing pic.twitter.com/OWDG6vIerN
— Priya Anand (@Priyasideas) June 22, 2017
This dialog happened back in March of last year, which means it is possible these two were discussing terms for the acquisition of self-driving truck startup Otto. It shows Uber was sure of its decision to also disrupt the trucking business and wanted to onboard an already operational and technologically sound startup to their arsenal.
Kalanick thought highly of Levandowski, as he was appointed as the lead of the self-driving division the moment the acquisition of Otto was completed. But, the trust seems to have completely dissolved until date because Levandowski has been ousted from Uber for cooperating with the lawsuit.
Though he was asked to destroy the discs, Levandowski thought it was wise to be secretive and lie about the fact that he did destroy the discs to his former (then present) employer. His actions have now landed Uber in this situation, where there’s always the danger of its self-driving efforts being dissolved due to the embroiling patent infringement lawsuit. The statement put forth by Uber in this regard in the court filing reads as under:
According to new court documents filed by Waymo, Uber has acknowledged that Anthony Levandowski told Travis Kalanick and other Uber executives that he had five discs containing files belonging to Waymo.
Uber said that during the March 2016 exchange, Kalanick told Levandowski to destroy the documents and not bring them into Uber. Soon after, Levandowski told Kalanick he had destroyed the discs, according to the court papers.
Now what’s Levandowski concerned of, his own personal safety. Thus, he has been pleading his Fifth Amendment rights and is not ready to talk about the acquisition or the allegations that’ve been pinned on him. The said gory details have possibly been revealed, courtesy of Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley’s ruling that Uber needs to hand over the unredacted term sheet of its Otto acquisition to Waymo.
And if you’re still unaware of what all the aforementioned hullaballo0 stems from then you should know that Google’s Waymo filed a patent infringement lawsuit, followed by an injunction (which has been partially approved), alleging that Uber had stolen several confidential documents from them and built their LiDAR sensors based on their designs. The self-driving division alleged that their former employee fled with over 9.7 GB of confidential documents — 14,000 files relating to its autonomous vehicle technology.
Img Credits: Adam Tinworth/Flickr