Anthony Levandowski is a former employee of Google’s Waymo company that is engaged heavily in the development of self-driving technologies. Google is the pioneer in this tech and it’s Alphabet is controlling Waymo that handed over the 10-years experience of Google’s developments. Levandowski was its brightest star, a technical engineer that has many know-hows focused in his hands. He has spent his entire professional career to make research and evolve in the area of driverless technologies and is now considered one of the biggest specialists in this area.
However, when he departed Google, he found his own company named Otto that was later acquired by Uber at nearly 0.7 billion dollars (the overwhelming part of this part was paid by Uber’s shares). Uber needed the technological expertise of Levandowski in the area in order to progress in the driverless technology, which is crucial for the company.
Then, only some months after this acquisition, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber saying that Uber uses the stolen Waymo’s technology. The biggest claim was connected to Anthony Levandowski’s expertise in the driverless tech as he allegedly illegally took with him to Otto that was later purchased by Uber.
Uber applied all its efforts to reveal to the judge in the court that they’ve been building own technology not relying on the commercial secrets of Waymo, and they needed Levandowski to back them up in such statements. However, when a judge asked Mr. Anthony to file evidence that it was true, he applied to the right of Fifth Amendment in order to refrain from self-incriminations and did not cooperate.
During some months, Uber was trying to agree with Mr. Anthony the necessity to cooperate with the court providing the obligatory data that would play for good for Uber but when the final deadline of the provision of data has passed, Uber had nothing to do than fire Levandowski.
According to the analysts in the corporate law, Uber’s step was the best option as now they have a little to connect them to Levandowski and alleged stealing of the commercial secrets of Google.
This firing has three consequences:
1. Mr. Anthony can now continue his work independently as Uber factually said that they were not using the results of work of Levandowski and so he keeps his know-hows with him.
2. Uber will starve from the departure of the brilliant engineer and will have to lower the pace of implementation of innovations.
3. Mr. Anthony will not acquire his shares of Uber as none of these has vested.
What is more – the judge of the case between Waymo and Uber transferred the request to the United States attorney’s office in order to study the case of the possibility of stealing commercial secrets of Google by Levandowski. If it is true, he may be charged with criminal prosecution, independently from being connected to Uber.
Uber’s self-driving technology is crucial for its business, as it is privately estimated to be a 70-billion dollars business (in particular, autonomous ride-hailing services). That is why Google, its main competitor, would want by all means to prevent Uber from too active development in the area.