Travis Kalanick Takes the Stand

Marcus Newton
February 8, 2018

Kalanick on Tuesday shed light on why he wanted to poach Levandowski, a star Google self-driving engineer as he took to the stand in the high-profile stolen trade secrets trial. He's scheduled to appear in court when the trial reopens around 7:30 a.m.

Wednesday is Kalanick's second day of testimony in a trial centered on allegations that he conspired with former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski to rip off Google's self-driving auto project, while Uber was attempting build its own robotic vehicles. Kalanick confirmed that Uber's self-driving auto program was lagging years behind Waymo's and that Levandowski's particular expertise in Lidar - a critical vision system for self-driving cars - would accelerate its autonomous vehicle efforts.

Uber has been accused of "cheating" its way to the development of self-driving auto technology by rival Waymo, at the start of a $1.9bn (£1.36bn) damages action in the US.

This was Kalanick's chance to give Uber's side of the story after being grilled by Waymo's attorneys Tuesday and early Wednesday. Refresh this page for updates.

He described it as a "little brother, big brother relationship", and noted that David Drummond, Google's general counsel, served on Uber's board of directors for years. In turn, he said he chose to begin his own autonomous vehicle unit, acquiring a team from Carnegie Mellon University in the spring of 2015.

Waymo must prove Uber not only got its hands on the 14,000 files, but also that it used them to develop its own project. Waymo wants him to testify to something he said in a deposition - that he believes Kalanick committed fraud on Uber's board by not sufficiently disclosing facts underlying the Otto acquisition. The case revolves around allegations from Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving auto spinoff, that Uber stole trade secrets to use for its own self-driving program.

"There's lots of risk in a deal", Kalanick said.

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Verhoeven is painting a picture of Uber as a company that would do anything to win. "Couple that with a ride-sharing system - he had a vision for how to make that work that was compelling". In a previous exchange of text messages between Mr. Kalanick and Mr. Levandowski, the latter referred to the due diligence questionnaire he was provided with as "dumb" and told Uber's former CEO he was also squeezing his lawyers "like toothpaste". In many cases the Uber co-founder, wearing a business suit and tie, a change from casual startup attire, said he could not recall specific conversations.

But some of those texts were recovered, and Verhoeven showed the jury messages between the pair that includes phrases like "burn the village".

As part of the deal, Uber agreed to indemnify Levandowski against any legal action, Kalanick said.

Kalanick was pressured by investors to step down as CEO a month after Levandowski's firing, partly because of concerns about Waymo's lawsuit.

Kalanick then stood up and walked through the court's double doors, closely followed by his father.

"We hired Anthony because we felt that he was incredibly visionary, a very good technologist, and he was also very charming". So I wanted to come up with a situation where he could feel like he started a company and I could feel like I hired him, ' Kalanick said. Levandowski downloaded the data to his Google laptop, then connected a memory card reader to it for eight hours, then erased the laptop entirely, Brown testified, showing logs that backed up his analysis. "Larry was very upset that we were doing his thing", Kalanick said.

Levandowski's hiring turned into a legal battle over driverless vehicle tech like, LIDAR. He explained that Google invested in Uber in 2013, a detail left out by both sides in opening arguments, and that he had always been interesting in partnering his ride-hailing company with Google's self-driving technology once it was ready. "One of (Waymo's) theories is that Uber got greedy and wanted to. take a shortcut to the finish line", Alsup said. That spawned his discussions with Levandowski, a respected expert in self-driving vehicles who had become disillusioned with the direction of Google's project.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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