Ex-Uber Engineer Accused of Spying on Tesla, Stealing Trade Secrets


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The engineer at the center of the upcoming Waymo vs. Uber trial is dealing with dramatic new allegations of business wrongdoing, this time from a former nanny.

Erika Wong, who says she cared for Anthony Levandowski’s two youngsters from December 2016 to June 2017, filed a lawsuit in California this month accusing him of breaking an extended checklist of employment legal guidelines. The criticism alleges the failure to pay wages, labor and well being code violations, and the intentional infliction of emotional misery, amongst different issues.

But on this uncommon 81-page criticism, Wong additionally speculates about a big swath of Levandowski’s private and enterprise dealings. She reviews an awesome number of particulars, together with dozens of overheard names, the license-plate numbers of automobiles she noticed at a Levandowski property, and an in depth checklist of the BDSM gear she claims he stored in his bed room.

Although the lawsuit incorporates some apparent inaccuracies—akin to stating that Levandowski is a resident of Oakland County, California, which doesn’t exist—Wong’s claims elevate new questions on Levandowski’s enterprise conduct. In her criticism, Wong alleges that Levandowski was paying a Tesla engineer for updates on its electrical truck program, promoting microchips overseas, and creating new startups utilizing stolen commerce secrets and techniques. Her criticism additionally describes Levandowski reacting to the arrival of the Waymo lawsuit in opposition to Uber, strategizing with then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and discussing fleeing to Canada to flee prosecution.

Levandowski’s exterior dealings whereas employed at Google and Uber have been central themes in Waymo’s commerce secrets and techniques case. Waymo says that Levandowski took 14,000 technical recordsdata associated to laser-ranging lidar and different self-driving applied sciences with him when he left Google to work at Uber. He’s not a celebration to the unique Waymo criticism in opposition to Uber, nonetheless, and no prison costs have but been filed in opposition to him. Levandowski has persistently exercised his Fifth Modification rights and never responded to allegations in that swimsuit.

A press release on the Wong lawsuit from Levandowski’s spokesperson is unequivocal: “On January 5, a frivolous lawsuit was filed in opposition to Anthony Levandowski in US District Courtroom. The allegations within the lawsuit are a piece of fiction. Levandowski is assured that the lawsuit will probably be dismissed by the courts.” Little is thought about Wong, who didn’t instantly reply to a request for an interview. She says within the criticism medical background earned her a higher-than-average wage for a nanny; that she had taken legislation lessons; and that she had produced a brief movie on Sebastian Thrun, who led the early improvement of Google’s self-driving automobile.

Within the criticism, Wong describes a scene from February 23 of final yr, the day Waymo filed its lawsuit in opposition to Uber. When Wong arrived for work that night, she says she noticed Levandowski strolling in circles in the lounge, sweating profusely and speaking to his lawyer, Miles Ehrlich, on the cellphone.

In response to courtroom data, Wong recollects Levandowski screaming, “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! How might they do that to me? Miles, what concerning the clause, you … mentioned this is able to work! What do I do with the discs? What do the contracts say? It’s all mine, the cash, the offers, it’s all mine. What about ‘the shit?’ These are all my fucking offers!”

On March 11, a day after Waymo filed a movement for an injunction in opposition to Uber, Wong describes Levandowski texting her to say he was bringing his boss house with him. Half an hour later, she says, Kalanick and Levandowski arrived, bringing with them a white bucket containing circuit boards and lenses, in addition to authorized paperwork for Levandowski to signal. She writes that Kalanick spent about 5 hours at Levandowski’s house.

Per week later, Wong recollects Levandowski saying to his stepmother, Suzanna Musick, “Be sure Pat Inexperienced will get paid.” (Musick has deep connections with Levandowski’s corporations. Google’s first self-driving Prius was nonetheless registered in her title lengthy after 510 Programs, the startup that constructed it, was offered to the tech large.)

Wong had heard the identical title in conversations between Levandowski and Randy Miller, his faculty pal and enterprise companion on a number of building offers. On April 6, in keeping with the criticism, Inexperienced’s title got here up once more in discussions with Miller, this time related to updates from Tesla’s electrical trucking division. Wong’s criticism says that on April 27 she overheard Levandowski and his brother Mike speaking about how Levandowski would possibly drive as much as Alberta, Canada, to keep away from jail. She recollects Levandowski telling his brother, “Simply prepare with Suzanna, dad, and Hazlett [another relative] to maintain working with Pat Inexperienced. I would like updates on Tesla trucking, the non-lidar know-how is essential and Nvidia chips. We will earn a living on each.”

Throughout Might and June, the swimsuit states, Wong remembers Levandowski calling his sister incessantly and asking, “Did you get any packages from Google or Pat Inexperienced?”

There’s a senior manufacturing tools engineer referred to as Patrick Inexperienced working at Tesla on new merchandise, in keeping with a profile on LinkedIn, however neither Inexperienced nor Tesla responded to requests for remark and no different public proof seems to hyperlink this individual to Levandowski. Tesla has lengthy been engaged on an electrical self-driving truck, which was lastly unveiled in November because the Semi. Levandowski has an funding in autonomous trucking as the bulk shareholder in Otto Trucking, a self-driving truck startup initially named as a codefendant within the Waymo case. Otto Trucking owns self-driving vehicles based mostly at Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco.

In response to Wong’s criticism, on the identical assembly Levandowski additionally requested his brother Mike to maintain “paying off Haslim and others.” This probably refers to James Haslim, the lidar engineer who was employed by Levandowski to work at his startup Tyto Lidar. Tyto was acquired by Otto and, in flip, by Uber, the place Haslim nonetheless works. Uber declined to touch upon the allegation and didn’t make Haslim obtainable for an interview.

This criticism makes clear that Wong additionally thinks Levandowski is promoting commerce secrets and techniques, lidar know-how, and processors to prospects overseas. She recollects a dialog on June three wherein she says he advised her, “I don’t plan on going to jail, the cash is within the chip gross sales.” On one other cellphone name just a few weeks later, in keeping with courtroom data, she heard him say, “I’m wealthy as fuck. Growth-mother fucker! Fuck Travis! Fuck Uber! I’m taking the world over with all these offers, microchips gross sales all around the world.”

The doc additionally particulars Wong’s perception that Levandowski had a hand in forming a number of startups not publicly linked to him. For instance, the criticism describes Wong overhearing a dialog between Levandowski and his enterprise companions about ex-Google engineer Bryan Salesky’s autonomous automobile startup Argo.AI. She then urged within the criticism that Levandowski may need had a task in creating the corporate whereas at Uber. But Google founder Larry Web page testified in a deposition for the Waymo case that rigidity between Levandowski and Salesky at Google “would not be stunning.” Argo.AI tells WIRED that Levandowski was not concerned within the formation of the corporate in any manner. And Ford, which owns a majority stake in Argo.AI, says the startup had not but acquired the title “Argo” on the time of the alleged dialog.

Wong additionally suggests within the criticism that Levandowski helped create JingChi Company, an autonomous know-how startup based by Qing Lu, a former government at lidar firm Velodyne, in March 2017. The criticism cites as proof just a few conferences between Levandowski and Michael Jellen, Velodyne’s president. When contacted, Qing Lu and Velodyne additionally denied Wong’s conclusions. WIRED might discover no public proof linking Levandowski to both Argo.AI or JingChi.

Wong is looking for damages of over $6 million. Levandowski has been served with a summons, and an preliminary case administration convention is scheduled for early April. If Levandowski was anticipating his authorized woes to finish with the Waymo case subsequent month, he might should buckle up for an extended experience.

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