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I am reminded of an HN comment from 206 days ago that seemed prescient, even then: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12315888

This is from the big Bloomberg article/interview that came out today:

'Kalanick began courting Levandowski this spring, broaching the possibility of an acquisition during a series of 10-mile night walks from the Soma neighborhood where Uber is also headquartered to the Golden Gate Bridge. The two men would leave their offices separately—to avoid being seen by employees, the press, or competitors. They’d grab takeout food, then rendezvous near the city’s Ferry Building. Levandowski says he saw a union as a way to bring the company’s trucks to market faster.'

Which implies to me that the plan was for Uber to acquire Otto all along.




Here's another comment from an HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12558078

"Otto was designed to be sold to Uber before it was created, there's a reason it was self-funded despite having nearly 100 employees by the time it was acquired. Anthony Levandowski met Travis Kalanick years ago and had been planning something like this for a while. It's basically an open secret."


What is the illegal part of this? This happens all the time in the Valley. Did they actually steal source code?


They did- lidar and other designs, and this is saying that rather than it only being Levandowski's fault, Kalanick knew what was happening from the beginning and Uber was essentially using Otto as a shell company. This is stated clearly in the third paragraph of the article.

>the subtext of Alphabet’s filing is an even bigger bombshell. Reading between the lines, (in my opinion) Alphabet is implying that Mr Levandowski arranged with Uber to:

>Steal LiDAR and other self-driving component designs from Waymo

>Start Otto as a plausible corporate vehicle for developing the self-driving technology

>Acquire Otto for $680 million


Whether or not Google can prove in court that Uber knew of the theft will determine whether Uber is hurt a little or a lot by this.


The allegation is that he stole ~10GB of mechanical and electrical drawings for various essential parts, including the custom LIDAR. They claim to have forensic logs of his laptop of him downloading them and copying them to a memory card


> They claim to have forensic logs of his laptop of him downloading them and copying them to a memory card

Sounds like a farytale to me, unless those logs are captures and stored independently then otherwise anyone can claim having any kind of evidence against anyone involved.

Besides, there might be many reasons of him doing that, let the backup be one.


Read the original allegations, not the summary here. Just to start you off, here's some the things alleged by google you're missing from that summary:

- He installed custom software to access the files.

- The files were in a data store he had no normal access to.

And here's my best guess as to why Google knows so much:

- Google requires access to their networks using either your Google assigned device, or a pre-approved list of devices of your own (basically chromebooks). I know from past interactions with a friend that works at Google that they often give beta versions of software (Android) and/or hardware (Nexus phones, chromebooks) to employees to test. It's entirely possibly that quite a lot of debugging data is reported on some build. Additionally, that same friend noted that Google has a whole department dedicated to rooting our invalid access like what is alleged here, and since they control the devices available to access their network, there's really no conceivably limit to the amount of activity data they could collect about employee usage.

In short, I see no reason why Google couldn't have as much data as they allege and possibly much more. to me, the fact that they waited until this stage to present it also seems calculated to benefit the most from those trying to defraud them (why not stop the forming of Otto initially, or the buyout?). If that's the case, I don't really have much sympathy for Uber, as they seem to possibly have been integral to the crime, and may have escaped punishment if it hadn't gotten this far.

Edit: Whoops, said Waymo where I meant Otto,


> why not stop the forming of Waymo initially

You mean Otto?


Yes, thanks!


Thank you for this detailed summary.

My point wasn't that Google doesn't have data; my point is that they want to use it as evidence.. but said evidence has been created by themselves!


Well, what's to differentiate that argument from being used against video evidence of a robbery? It's up to the defense to get the evidence deemed inadmissible to discredit it in court if there's any indication that it may not be legit.

I imagine logs by themselves might not sway some people, but logs combined with whatever is found in a discovery process from Uber along with the fact that a parts supplier of Waymo happened to be making the exact same part for Otto (either because the secret part was requested or because they were provided the exact same design docs), doesn't make it look very good for Otto/Uber (if that allegation is correct).


There's really zero incentive for line-level engineers & security folks at Google to engage in conspiracy to defraud the court. The penalties that the involved individuals could potentially suffer would be far worse than whatever distant benefit they get from Google winning the case (and it only takes one defector to ruin your plan). It's not logically impossible for such a thing to happen, but I would consider sworn testimony from multiple Google employees "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" that the purported access did happen.


> My point wasn't that Google doesn't have data; my point is that they want to use it as evidence.. but said evidence has been created by themselves!

That's like saying the police created their own evidence by performing an investigation.


No it is not. Google != police.


In general there might be other reasons you can think of that he would do that, but at Google he would have been told where and when he's allowed to store & retrieve company data. It would have certainly been a fireable offence for him to copy company data to a memory card. You're not even allowed to store source code on your work laptop.


At Google, is it common to develop code in some kind of cloud IDE?


Actually, yes, though not an IDE. The need for code on a laptop has been solved another way.


Except for the part where those designs were not only not discarded, but actually used in Uber's technology and subsequently accidentally CC'd back to Google. (If I'm following the story correctly).


That certainly seems to be the implication of the original article.

I guess it's up to the legal process to decide if he did or not.


But how do we know Google wasn't the one making that plan? I find it strange that Google paid Levandowski millions in bonuses after he quit abruptly and after they already knew he was starting a company with their IP.


So Google paid Lewandowski a bonus to steal their own IP, launch a company and sell it for a large amount to Uber so they could destroy Uber with a huge lawsuit?

Makes sense! (cough)


The bonuses could have been historically earned?


Via a recent Bloomberg article [0], the (pre-Waymo) car project had an "unorthodox compensation system" resulting in "multi-million dollar payouts" that were somehow tied to the success/value of the project. A fascinating and weird way to incentivize hard work.

[0] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-13/one-reaso...




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