Uber Ex-CEO Travis Kalanick Knew of Stolen Google Files

By Jack Nicas Features Dow Jones Newswires

Former Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Travis Kalanick knew an engineer had allegedly stolen Google files before hiring the engineer last year, according to Uber's attorneys.

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It is the first evidence that Uber executives were aware of the files of self-driving technology that are at the center of a lawsuit between Uber and Google parent Alphabet Inc.

However, Uber attorneys said, when Mr. Kalanick learned of the files in March 2016, he instructed the engineer to not bring them to Uber. That engineer, former Google executive Anthony Levandowski, later told Uber he destroyed the files before Uber bought his startup for $680 million in August 2016 and he was appointed to lead Uber's self-driving team, they said.

The revelation came in court documents filed late Wednesday, shedding new light on what Uber executives knew about the allegedly stolen files and when.

Alphabet's driverless-car unit Waymo "has been making up a story that Uber asked Mr. Levandowski to bring material over [from] Google, when the truth is the exact opposite," Uber lead attorney Arturo Gonzalez said in an interview. "This new development proves Uber never wanted any Google info."

Waymo said in a statement, "The evidence clearly shows Waymo's trade secrets have been used in Uber's self-driving car project. By their own admission, Uber leadership knew about these unlawful acts and far from doing the right thing, they tried to conceal it."

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In the filing, Waymo argued the new details showed Uber violated an earlier court order to turn over any information about the deletion of the allegedly stolen files. Uber's Mr. Gonzalez said he planned to fight that allegation.

Waymo has accused Uber of colluding with Mr. Levandowski to steal trade secrets from Google and incorporate them into Uber's driverless-car technology. Uber denies the allegations. Attorneys for Mr. Levandowski, who was fired by Uber last month for not cooperating in the lawsuit, didn't respond to a request for comment.

In response to a Waymo request for information, Uber attorneys said earlier this month that in March 2016, when Uber was looking into Mr. Levandowski's driverless-truck startup as an acquisition target, Mr. Levandowski told Mr. Kalanick and other Uber executives that he had "five discs in his possession containing Google information."

Uber attorneys said that Mr. Kalanick then told Mr. Levandowski he "should not bring any Google information into Uber and that Uber did not want any Google information."

Write to Jack Nicas at jack.nicas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 22, 2017 19:17 ET (23:17 GMT)