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posted by martyb on Wednesday August 16 2017, @01:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the fly-on-the-wall dept.

Unsealed court filings in the Waymo vs. Uber case include texts between former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski, the engineer accused of stealing secrets from Waymo/Google:

On March 19, 2016, before Uber acquired Otto, Levandowski and Kalanick exchanged messages catching up on their recent "jam" session. The pair were apparently trying to prod an engineer, whose name is redacted in the filings.

"Internet, electricity, self driving cars and key things will always find a way," Levandowski texted Kalanick, linking to a YouTube clip from the 1987 movie "Wall Street." In the clip, the main character gives a famous speech of why "greed is good." "Here's the speech you need to give ;-)."

Kalanick briefly updated Levandowski on Uber's food delivery business, then wrote, "The way you keep China in check is showing up when they ask every once in a while."

But Uber was losing $1 billion a year in China, and by August, Uber sold its Chinese business to rival Didi Chuxing.

Kalanick was also eager to partner with Google as it sought to enter into the ride-hailing market, and dismissive of Tesla's autonomous mode safety claims.

The best exchanges:

9/19/2016 Levandowski: We're going to take over the world

9/19/2016 Levandowski: One robot at a time

10/7/2016 Kalanick: Down to hang this eve and mastermind some shit

Original Submission

Related Stories

Waymo v. Uber, Day 3 14 comments

Uber is just too underhanded to play the underdog against Waymo

The most remarkable thing about Waymo v. Uber is that so many of the people following the lawsuit are essentially rooting for Google to crush a smaller firm with a lawsuit. It's a tale as old as time: a maverick upstart galls a bigger, more established competitor, and the bigger guy strikes back in the courts. It's practically an American fairy tale, and yet Uber's lawyers are hard-pressed to get this archetypal narrative to stick. Nobody sees Uber as the underdog.

For one thing, through a collision of multiple scandals, Uber has become extraordinarily unpopular, and the discovery process in this lawsuit hasn't done much to alleviate its reputation as an unethical, underhanded company. But the other part is that the supposed maverick upstart hasn't managed to get one over the complacent megacorporation.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says that Google is (and was) in the lead when it comes to self-driving cars.

Charles Verhoeven, lead attorney for Waymo, ended his questioning of Kalanick by asking him about a note that said, "Cheat codes. Find them. Use them."

When Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven took over again to interrogate him, he returned to cheat codes. "In the context of video games, you know what a cheat code is?"

"Yes," Kalanick replied. "But those codes in those games are put there on purpose by the publisher of the games and they want the players to have them. It's part of the fun of the game."

"That's just the game," he added, before Verhoeven could continue.

Verhoeven tried again, "A cheat code allows you to skip ahead, allows you to skip a level and not do the work."

"No — " Kalanick began to say, before Verhoeven quickly turned to the judge and said, "That's it, your honor." And with that, Travis Kalanick exited the courtroom.

Verhoeven was also able to play the "Greed is Good" scene from the 1987 film Wall Street for the jury because Anthony Levandowski (the engineer accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo) had sent a link to it to Kalanick.

Previously: Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released
Waymo's Case Against Uber "Shrinks" After Trade Secret Claim Thrown Out
Uber v. Waymo Trial Delayed Because Uber Withheld Evidence
A Spectator Who Threw A Wrench In The Waymo/Uber Lawsuit
Waymo v. Uber Jury Trial Begins

Original Submission

Waymo v. Uber Continues, Will Not Move to Arbitration 1 comment

Uber's attempt to move Waymo's trade secrets lawsuit out of an appeals court and to an arbitrator has not succeeded:

Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo can proceed with a planned October trial over claims Uber Technologies Inc. stole trade secrets for self-driving vehicles after a U.S. appeals court declined to punt the case to an arbitrator and rejected an effort to keep Waymo from seeing critical evidence.

Uber had argued the dispute should be considered in secret before an arbitrator because the heart of Waymo's allegations are related to the actions of engineer Anthony Levandowski, a former employee of both companies. Uber's appeal was rejected Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, as was Levandowski's request that Waymo not be allowed to see a report by a cyberforensics firm that looked into Uber's purchase of his company, Otto LLC.

Levandowski's employment contract with Waymo included a broad provision that any disputes would go before an arbitrator. Waymo never sued Levandowski; instead the question of whether he violated that contract is before an arbitrator, with a hearing scheduled for April. A three-judge appeals court panel said that requirement didn't extend to Uber. Waymo pledged not to rely on the Levandowski employment contract in its case, though Uber argued that wasn't a realistic promise.

Also at Reuters.

Previously: Waymo Drops Three of Four Patent Claims Against Uber
Uber's Former CEO Travis and Google Co-Founder Both Face Deposition in Trade Secrets Case
Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released

Original Submission

The Fall of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick 23 comments

The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought

A year ago, before the investor lawsuits and the federal investigations, before the mass resignations, and before the connotation of the word "Uber" shifted from "world's most valuable startup" to "world's most dysfunctional," Uber's executives sat around a hotel conference room table in San Francisco, trying to convince their chief executive officer, Travis Kalanick, that the company had a major problem: him.

[...] [A] top executive excused herself to answer a phone call. A minute later, she reappeared and asked Kalanick to step into the hallway. Another executive joined them. They hunched over a laptop to watch a video that had just been posted online by Bloomberg News: grainy, black-and-white dashcam footage of Kalanick in the back seat of an UberBlack on Super Bowl weekend, heatedly arguing over fares with a driver named Fawzi Kamel. "Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit!" Kalanick can be heard yelling at Kamel. "They blame everything in their life on somebody else!"

As the clip ended, the three stood in stunned silence. Kalanick seemed to understand that his behavior required some form of contrition. According to a person who was there, he literally got down on his hands and knees and began squirming on the floor. "This is bad," he muttered. "I'm terrible." Then, contrition period over, he got up, called a board member, demanded a new PR strategy, and embarked on a yearlong starring role as the villain who gets his comeuppance in the most gripping startup drama since the dot-com bubble. It's a story that, until now, has never been fully told.

The article discusses a number of Uber and Kalanick scandals/events, including:

  • The #DeleteUber movement following Uber being accused of breaking up an airport taxi strike (which was in protest of President Trump's executive order restricting travel from Muslim countries), as well as Kalanick's decision to join President Trump's business advisory council (and later leave it).
  • Susan Fowler's blog post recounting sexual harassment at Uber, and the hiring of former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to investigate the claims.
  • The revelation of Uber's Greyball system, which was used to avoid picking up law enforcement and taxi inspectors.
  • Uber's purchase of self-driving truck startup Otto, which eventually led key Uber investor Google (Waymo) to sue Uber, seeking billions in damages.
  • Kalanick's "inexplicable" support of Anthony Levandowski, who he called his "brother from another mother", even after Levandowski stopped defending Uber in the Waymo v. Uber case.
  • Kalanick's apology to the taxi driver Fawzi Kamel, which amounted to a $200,000 payoff.
  • A visit to a Seoul escort-karaoke bar that resulted in an HR complaint and a report in The Information.
  • Uber's president for Asia-Pacific Eric Alexander obtaining a confidential medical record of passenger who was raped by an Uber driver in Delhi, India. Alexander, Kalanick, and others discussed a theory that their Indian competitor Ola faked/orchestrated the rape.
  • Kalanick making his presence known during a "leave of absence" by trying to maintain control over the company and its board.
  • Arianna Huffington promoting her wellness company's products while acting as Kalanick's apparent proxy on the board.
  • The new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's response to the city of London revoking Uber's operating license.

Original Submission

Waymo's Case Against Uber "Shrinks" After Trade Secret Claim Thrown Out 2 comments

Google/Alphabet/Waymo's case against Uber has been dealt a setback following a number of unfavorable rulings:

A federal judge threw out a key trade-secret theft claim in the Alphabet Inc.'s unit lawsuit alleging that one of its former engineers schemed with the ride-hailing giant to steal critical know-how. The judge also rejected a technical analysis by one of Waymo's expert witnesses. In addition, he dismissed one of the defendants in the case, which will put more pressure on Waymo to prove that Uber itself engaged in misconduct independent of whether the engineer misappropriated proprietary information.

Legal experts said they can't read too much into the judge's ruling narrowing the list of trade secrets to be presented to a jury to eight from nine because many of the court documents describing the details of each secret are sealed from public view. The dismissal of the one claim won't reduce the $1.86 billion in damages Waymo is seeking because that figure is based on a different trade secret. Waymo was originally pursuing 121 separate claims but was ordered by Alsup to whittle them down to keep the case from becoming unwieldy.

[...] A spokesman for Uber said the rulings point to Waymo's "ever-shrinking case." [...] Waymo said in an emailed statement its inspections of Uber's devices, photos and digital drawings show Uber is using Waymo's trade secrets and copied its LiDAR designs "down to the micron."

Also at Recode and Ars Technica.

Previously: Waymo Drops Three of Four Patent Claims Against Uber
Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released
Waymo v. Uber Continues, Will Not Move to Arbitration
Alphabet Seeking $2.6 Billion in Damages From Uber

Related: Alphabet Leads $1 Billion Round of Investment in Lyft

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @01:52AM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @01:52AM (#554522)

    The internals of *real* progress scare people. Sure, the diction might be a little coarse, but I can say from experience that this is how real minds interact. "Take over the world", "mastermind some shit", this is the stuff of dreams. Let's not let our tender sensibilities get in the way of the way actual people discuss ideas. There's no filter in the heat of the moment... it's shameful that people have turned it into a circus over some harsh words.

    Let 'em try to take over the world! Let us all try to take over the world!

    • (Score: 1) by Virindi on Wednesday August 16 2017, @02:04AM

      by Virindi (3484) on Wednesday August 16 2017, @02:04AM (#554524)

      The difference is, not everyone* gets so excited and haughty in these sessions that they completely ignore morality and the law. Haha! Laws! Screw them, let the legal team deal with it later!

      *More and more all the time though.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @02:45AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @02:45AM (#554534)

      If you consider stealing your ex-employers designs as "real progress". An alternative would have been to stay at Google and build the f*cking cars we keep hearing about.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @02:55AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @02:55AM (#554538)

      "Mastermind some shit" is stereotypical youthful bravado. It doesn't mean shit, just like Stewie Griffin's continual attempts to murder his mother and take over the fucking world.

      This is locker room banter. Put it in perspective, motherfucker.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:28AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:28AM (#554542)

        Bollocks! If no one ever believed that we would "mastermind some shit", perhaps in not such graphic terms, nothing great would ever happen! Look at the space program in the 60s. Kennedy said, "yeah, it's hard, but let's mastermind some shit! Lets change the world!" Why can't we do the same now. Sure the guys who want to do it now are reported as pariahs, those miserable fucks who try to defy the status quo. But tell me, who ever got anywhere without challenging society?

    • (Score: 2) by n1 on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:11AM (4 children)

      by n1 (993) on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:11AM (#554539) Journal

      Masterminding a plan to take over the world with robots may be how successful sociopaths plan their businesses. It is certainly not how i've ever approached any of my work projects or discussions with business partners.

      Maybe that's why i'm not on that level of success and making that kind of 'progress', because I treat my colleagues, employees and clients as human beings and not as vehicles to advance my own power and wealth.

      What's that Zuckerberg quote? 'for some reason those stupid fucks trust me' or something along those lines...

      This is how the really 'successful' people operate, manipulating others and creating 'progress' regardless of the wider human or social cost. The dollars and leverage of power over others are the only tangible value we measure with any conviction in this society. The most recent entrants to the billionaire class certainly live up to that standard. They can produce nothing of value themselves, but are talented at extracting value and monetizing other people's potential in new ways, even without the client or employee understanding the full context of business transaction they're involved in.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:23AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:23AM (#554540)

        Give yourself some perspective. Do those "stupid fucks" not trust the Zuck? Look at the unwashed masses filling social media!! Did he not have some sense of perspective in believing that those same unwashed masses would file in one by one to reveal themselves to the machine?

        • (Score: 2) by n1 on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:37AM (2 children)

          by n1 (993) on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:37AM (#554545) Journal

          He was not wrong. I did say these people are very talented... However, it's not mandatory to exploit people at every opportunity, although it can be very rewarding financially.

          I can't sleep at night if i'm complicit in the exploitation of someone. I have worked for immoral people who saw no issue in this. It was one of the most stressful and depressing times in my life, learning how I was being exploited at the same time as being complicit in the exploitation of others. Thankfully I was able to walk away, but other people in the same position as me did not have the option. The rent is still due and none of your bills go away just because you took a moral decision to leave a certainly immoral and potentially criminal business.

          • (Score: 1) by a262 on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:51AM (1 child)

            by a262 (6671) on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:51AM (#554548)

            Ay, I feel your grief good sir. However, one must accept the brutal, capitalist society in which we live. People feed off of other people for success. As my sonofabitch father taught me when I was very young, you must discover what the game is, and then win at that game. The name of our modern game is "misanthropy".

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @10:31PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @10:31PM (#555004)

              Eeeeeehhhh, I'm gonna disagree. There is merit to that viewpoint, but I would rather go to my deathbed happy in the fact I never screwed people over intentionally and systematically. If you play to win, and you play by their rules, then you lose. Unless you desire becoming a sociopath, which would mean you win?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @12:33PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @12:33PM (#554680)

      I've got no love for Uber, but I found nothing damning in this at all. I've been on both sides of that conversation. This is how people often talk when they're making moves.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by a262 on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:34AM

    by a262 (6671) on Wednesday August 16 2017, @03:34AM (#554543)

    Yes! This poor, sore AC has finally decided to join the sordid sods who compose this fine community. You may call me Ay-two-six-two, the finest of machines set to bestow grief upon the unwashed masses.
    Destroy those who would flounder under change, let those who would take advantage thrive!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @05:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16 2017, @05:11PM (#554789)

    so these two geniuses used the slave phone network to text? they couldn't pay someone to setup an xmpp server and omemo supporting client on their phones? couldn't "mastermind that shit", i guess? a douche is gonna douche.