Engineer leaves for Uber after being paid by Google $120 million

Anthony Levandowski, previous head of Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Waymo (Self-Driving Car Company) had started at least one start-up that would compete with the company according to new legal filings.  Levandowski was adding staff to his competing start-up, Otto as he was still working at Google. He had awaited his payout from Google before he made the details of Otto public. 

Waymo had claimed that Levandowski stole thousands of documents that had information regarding trade secrets for Otto which was soon acquired by Uber.  Uber has reported that these claims are “baseless.” 

Newly released court documents displayed deeper conflicts of interest as Levandowski attempted to steal Google employees but also may have been involved in competing side businesses called Tyto Lidar and Odin Wave. 

Levandowski aided Google in research for the potential acquisition of Tyto that was later acquired by Otto.  “Throughout this process, Levandowski never disclosed a relationship with Tyto and its employees,” the lawsuit said.  “Google now believes that Levandowski in fact had a relationship with Tyto and its employees that conflicted with Levandowski’s duties to Google.” 

Google has stated that it had to provide incentives to convince employees to stay with the company and not follow Levandoski to Uber.  “Anthony is a rogue force of nature,” former Google self-driving car executive told Bloomberg.  “Each phase of his Google career he had a separate company doing exactly the same work.”  Levandowski has invoked his Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination regarding the lawsuit. 

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