I'm not certain, but I think the average engineer would feel more loyalty to a company that has given them multi-generational wealth.
I'm all for engineers getting paid, but in this case the guy didn't even have to do what most wealthy engineers do: deliver an actual successful product to market.
Anthony's efforts led to Streetview and Maps improvements. Waymo is still using his LIDAR research. I think Anthony is totally screwed with this lawsuit, but I wouldn't belittle his engineering accomplishments.
By comparison, after a year of learning to ride a motorbike I barely make it to work each day without shitting myself.
The 2005 Grand Challenge was divided into two parts: the national qualification event, where you went around an obstacle course on a closed raceway in an effort to qualify for a limited number of race slots, and the real race, which was a brutal 150 mile course through some pretty gnarly desert terrain.
Blue Team never made it past the NQE, which is why everyone's obsession with the motorbike makes no sense to those of us who actually made it to the real deal.
The Smithsonian's decision to memorialize Levandowski's engineering mediocrity is, to say the least, puzzling.
...and keep in mind that this was done around 1990.
Google clearly thought it was in their best interest, but I stand by what I said: As an engineer, the most well beaten path to wealth is building something that sells. To get paid and not even have to do that is itself something of an accomplishment, though not one I'd be very proud of.
In these types of situations where a lot of money is involved, I've noticed folks are pretty quick to vilify someone with little information aside from the heavily biased info that leaks into the news.
While $120MM in a vacuum does sound ridiculous, it's hard to know (or even put a price on) his true value without understanding his contributions in depth.
This criticism doesn't extend to you, but in general I've seen a lot of the same folks make snap judgements about someone's ability based on what they've read from news and then vehemently decry how job interviews (which yield far more information) aren't effective at judging someone's worth.
Also, if they valued his equity grants at $120mm and he held much, he likely netted far more.
Not many words would be written about his pay day if he made a clean break from google before building a competing product.
It's not belittling engineering efforts if one states that rewarding a non-production research project with 120 million would be adequate in a lot of cases.
You can't set an arbitrary limit on when money ceases to be motivating. At $100M in net worth, you no longer need to compromise on a lot of things that people with a $1M net worth have to. But at a $1M net worth, you also do not have to compromise on a lot of things that people with a $100k net worth have to, and so on and so forth.
If I had a net worth of over $100M, I'd probably still do things that increase it. That doesn't seem any more inherently greedy than my seeking to increase my net worth now, when it's orders of magnitude lower. I'd do it because it's what I know to do, and because more resources is rationally better than fewer resources.
> When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.
One of the most life-changing experiences I've ever had was swimming in a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico. I've never seen so many stars overhead in contrast to absolute darkness (you have to be in remote darkness to enjoy the bioluminescence). The sky was absolutely clear and every sensory detail felt enhanced and euphoric.
That vacation was a relatively expensive week for me. It didn't have to be as expensive as it was, but it couldn't have been significantly cheaper either. With $100M, I could fly down to Puerto Rico and do that every weekend, weather permitting.
But here's the thing - I'm sure that experience can be had (in principle, not exact detail) in every country in the world. With $20,000, you can carefully plan a backpacking trip through Europe. With $100M, you can have virtually any experience in Europe with instant gratification. Have you ever looked at Myspace Tom's Instagram? All the man does is travel around the world to interesting places taking photos. He doesn't necessarily do things people can't do with significantly less wealth, but he 1) doesn't have to choose which things to do and 2) does them casually, because he is virtually immune to financial catastrophe.
Money is freedom, because you can (in limited effect) trade it for time. I think most people love money because they love the time it can buy them, not because it is an end in of itself.
So yeah, I think wanting to earn a lot of money is great and no one should feel ashamed of wanting that.
Anyway, the general point here is that as you acquire more dollars, the relative value (to you) of a dollar diminishes. That's all the parent post was saying.
It does seems somewhat bizarre to see someone so successful still behave so ruthlessly in order to make money. Of course, that's my snap judgement. Levandowski may not be motivated by money at all. Although I doubt he's motivated by weekend trips to Puerto Rico either.
He didn't say: "No thanks. I don't like wine. I'd rather have a Cherry Coke." It wasn't an issue of taste preference.
People like Buffett love to play the game of maximizing return on a dollar invested, maximizing the quantity of dollars owned. Dollar accumulation is a game, a fascination, an obsession. For these people, the experience of having more dollars is not only the bioluminescent bay, it's every bioluminescent bay. There's nothing else that feels as great as increasing the dollar horde.
This really isn't true. Middle-class Americans who don't make enough money to sustain their current situation are at significant risk: 1) they can lose their ability to keep paying their mortgage, and then lose their home to foreclosure, or their car to repossession. Their car is what enables their lifestyle, their career, etc. Their home is where they live. They could downsize some of this stuff, but only so much: if you go too cheap on housing, you're now living in a bad neighborhood, which can be extremely dangerous. If you don't have enough money for good health insurance, your health is now at risk. Medicaid usually isn't available to poor adults who are able-bodied, and many healthcare providers refuse to accept it.
There's a reason many people have as their long-term goal to pay off their house ASAP, and to get out of debt, because that means that they're now in a position to afford their current lifestyle but with a significantly lower income, which reduces their risk immensely.
People who are millionaires and up do not have these concerns in the slightest. Going from a $20M mansion to a $750K house is not going to affect your personal safety in the slightest, but going from that to a $500 house in Detroit definitely will.
— Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)
Challenging times indeed.
 To understand the meta-joke there is actually a /usr/bin/yes program but in the standard distribution there isn't a /usr/bin/no :-)
It's pretty hard to find something on the internet or in commerce that isn't somehow competing with Google.
I personally have had one IARC approved and one denied (and something like a dozen opensource launches), but from what I've seen, the above statement is accurate.
Also, /usr/bin/yes will echo anything you give it.
Having two roles in a lawsuit is a very dangerous thing, no matter how much their ex employee is at fault here they could easily make a lot of smoke out of that.
'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.'
How are those trucks coming along, haha.
If they are working on alternative technology not under legal cloud in case thet lose the Waymo battle in a way which doesn't block all future work, yes, having Levandowski's hands off of it makes a huge difference.
It probably makes no difference in the Waymo fight, though.
Let's just assume that uber has some google technology. If they completely fire levandowsky, then he effectively becomes a third party in the case. Given the choice, google doesn't care about him, they care about uber beating them to market with their own tech. Google could drop him from the case in exchange for aiding in an uber loss. uber has to keep him close and happy, whatever that means...
Now if Uber really hasn't done anything wrong, and they may not actually know, but if we assume they are completely innocent then he can't directly hurt them if they fire him, he might sue them or collect a golden parachute but it makes uber look better.
To be clear, I am not saying Lewandowski's actions are right; I'm saying your argument does not sufficiently justify its wrongness.
"But Mr. Levandowski is still at Uber, reporting to his replacement, Eric Meyhofer. One person who knows both men said Mr. Meyhofer was considered to be Mr. Levandowski’s “shill.” So color us unimpressed by the move, which could just be smoke and mirrors."
You only have to do that when you are the trier of fact (jury in a jury trial, judge in a bench trial) in a criminal prosecution.
Outside of that, the rules are different.
> If you fired Levandowski and win the case, then he sues.
And loses, because at-will employment, and being suspected, even wrongly, of civil wrongdoing creating liability for your employer is not a protected class.
"The situation raises questions about the future of Mr. Levandowski at the company. When Uber’s lawyer told the court that the company could not force him to testify, Judge Alsup said Uber had the right to order him to cooperate or be fired."
And isn't Uber a) not a court of law, and therefore not obligated to presume innocence, and b) an at-will employer, who can terminate Levandowski merely for making life hard for them, whether or not he was responsible?
The burden of proof in a theft of trade secrets argument is on the plaintiff[1,2]. Google needs to prove Levandowski stole trade secrets, it does not require Uber to prove that he didn't.
I am also presuming that Uber has an employment contract with Levandowski which includes earn outs as part of the Otto acquisition. This is common practice. And if my presumption is correct, he is not an 'at will' employee, there are specific guidelines around termination and the responsibilities of each party should they decide to separate. It is entirely possible that if they were to ask him to leave, and he had yet to be proven to have stolen secrets or misreprented his ownership of the IP he brought, Uber could conceivably owe him the balance of all earn outs immediately.
 "Illinois law applied to the case and Illinois has passed the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. This Uniform Act is the law in 46 of the 50 states. To prevail on a trade secrets claim under the Act, a plaintiff must prove that: (1) it has information qualifying as a trade secret; (2) at least one of its trade secrets has been misappropriated; and (3) the defendant used that trade secret in their business
activity or inevitably will." --
Yes, but it's a "preponderance of the evidence" burden which means a literally any evidence for each of the required elements can meet it, if not countered by stronger evidence on the other side. "Proof" in law doesn't mean the same as in mathematics. (And in civil law, not even what it means in criminal law.)
There is no assumption of innocence here.
>Levandowski will remain at Uber, despite his role change
I do not know which he is, but I'm not in a position to pass judgement.
Levandowski is clearly a brilliant character. Is it possible that he's not trying to maximize monetary gain but is instead optimizing for power over the technology? I sense that he's good with technical implementation but possibly terrible at technical leadership/the politics necessary for seeing one's vision through in a larger organization.
If viewed in this light, it seems that Levandowski has constantly been frustrated by the direction (or lack thereof) within the organizations he's been a part of. Rather than starting side companies and jumping ship for profit, he's really just trying to maintain control over whatever vision he has for lidar-enabled self-driving technology.
Now this strategy for power breaks down a bit, because he keeps selecting the local maxima in terms of opportunity. When Google comes calling, he accepts. When Uber comes calling, he accepts. Constantly convinced that the next place will give him the power/respect he thinks he deserves.
In the end, rather than building up IP from scratch and making a good name for himself, he's stolen a bunch of work from other engineers while potentially building a patent-infringing product. (thoughts x-posted from the other thread)
I'm only watching because of morbid curiosity and really I have no stake in the outcome whatever it may be. Both companies are equally bad in my opinion and they are making things more and more unsustainable. The modern technology ecosystem feels very unhealthy in general.
That's not true at all. I know the "Pirate" idea is mythologized and tied to the development of the Mac, but even then, Apple actually had a deal with Xerox.
>Both companies are equally bad in my opinion and they are making things more and more unsustainable.
I wouldn't say that. I would say it's a typical dispute. We have courts to settle these kinds of disputes.
>The modern technology ecosystem feels very unhealthy in general.
I wouldn't go that far. Given the pace of change, it's actually pretty solid.
Such a perfect summary of why many of the flawed practices of our day persist.
I say "Google claims" because they haven't proven anything yet but it seems likely, in my opinion, that what they claim is true.
I believe that's a deliberate attempt to illogically equate what Levandowski is being accused of, which is duplicitous, pre-meditated behavior to milk Google out of 100+ million dollars, then take Google's technology to a competitor for another multi-hundred million payout, with something like unintentional patent infringement.
I absolutely believe that if Levandowski is guilty of what he is being accused of that he deserves jail time.
(It's fraud when you take advantage by ignoring the established legal rules that everyone else is playing by, however suboptimal those rules are.)
The last time something on this magnitude happened was during the financial crisis, and people were (rightly or not) braying for bankers to go to prison.
Are you one of these people?
This is one of the major disconnects in modern society, stealing huge sums of money by rich middle aged white guys is a minor slap on the wrists but stealing a few dollars by young, black guys is let's send them to the slammer and throw away the key.
It's so blatant and ingrained in the system that you can't even see it.
How do you tell someone that a store clerk robbed at knifepoint is much worse than having their retirement nest-egg evaporate because of someone they haven't even met? Serious white-collar crime should be pursued and punished much more than it currently is.
Litigation is civil, not criminal.
Maybe. He did this. http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah.... At least that's what Google tells me :). Given your history with him, do you know how much of this is true?
> and a complete psychopath
Whoa.. When you say psychopath, I'm translating that to 'ruthless without any morals.' Can you give any examples without giving away other people's personal details?
> As a Google shareholder
Waymo is suing Uber. Not Google. I don't think Google shareholders can vote their shares in other Alphabet companies.
We're all GOOG shareholders if we have a 401(k) with a large-cap index fund. As a GOOG shareholder, I want an Android phone that doesn't run out of battery after 8 hours of typical use, but I'm probably not gonna get it.
Probably not from Google.
Bit my most recent phone (UMi Plus) has a 4000mAh battery that has for the first time gotten me in the habit of not plugging it in at the first sight of a charging cable. It's also helped that it's USB-C and charges faster than any previous Android phone I've had.
There are also a few Android phones with 6000mAh battery, and at least one with a 10,000mAh battery that (unfortunately or fortunately depending on how important the battery life is for you) has a less battery hungry screen (and lower resolution) than most similarly priced phones. (both the 6k and 10k phones I mention are available from AliExpress sellers; read reviews carefully...)
I've been at Google for more than 7 years and I would not characterize the attitude of any of my colleagues (junior or senior) in this way. If anything, it's the total opposite.
RMS explains the difference and the intention behind the confusion well: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.en.html
- Soon after I started I gave a little demo of what I'd been working on before the acquisition as a side/thesis project. A team related to the one I was working in really liked it and wanted to have it and start a project with it. I was quite honored -- until I found out that the expectation was that I provide everything (code and other resources) for free, since they'd already acquired "my talent", and that would extend even to unrelated stuff that I did before the acquisition (that was literally their argument). It took me two years of explaining and negotiation until they finally paid a modest price for it.
- That not being enough I soon found out that extracting IP from fresh graduates / PhDs is actually quite common at Google. I know many examples where graduates / PhDs were asked to put in code and documentation of their prior/thesis work free of charge. Frankly I think that a lot of fresh graduates don't even realize at that point that they are being screwed out of something that is rightfully theirs (or the universitiy's -- depending on how their contracts were set up).
- The worst came out of people when the perf cycle came up. I've seen it over and over that engineers claimed they "put feature X into Y" when in reality feature X was implemented by another engineer and all they did was contribute some wiring code. Worst of all those kind of tricks not only didn't get caught, but the engineers in question often got rewarded for it.
- And of course the time Google started copying books and put them online for free without asking authors for permission or when they started leeching content off of websites and putting it next to their own ads (see ) that's not quite the display of the finest of manners either.
The kicker is that while all these things happened day in day out like it was no big deal most people in the company seemed to be convinced that Google operated on higher ethical standards than other companies. Permanently feeding your employees with "don't be evil" or "do the Googley thing" phrases must have made them think that that was actually the case I guess.
Needless to say I quit on the first day that my "golden handcuffs" came off and never looked back.
The way I see it, even at Google, small M&A deals are just staffed by a bunch of aggro nerds who have a lot more "egoistic hot shot" than "civilized decorum" about them. It seems possible they were bluffing — getting organizational buy-in and staffing a small project at Google has relatively enormous overhead. So for tiny projects (<$1M), buying is nearly always cheaper.
Best response, I imagine, would be "ok, why don't you guys figure out how much that'll cost you and we'll circle back to talk numbers again. looking forward to it!"
On what facts do you base this perception? If it is Uber we say "culture is set from top". This doesn't apply to Google?
One way to look at it is that capitalism basically involves two activities: creating value for others and moving money into your very own pocket. Overall, they're correlated. They have to be, or the system would collapse. But in any specific instance, a rich person may only be good at one of them.
you may have some justified reasons for disliking him but you sound unhinged in this comment. get a grip.
Edit: downvoted as expected. I bet that 9 out of 10 people upvoting these stories and downvoting every comment that is in the least supportive of Uber or critical of Google are bitter Google employees.
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14216420 and marked it off-topic.
Please don't comment uncivilly here.
In a trial, they only ask questions that whose answers are beneficial to their case. They know the answers are beneficial because they already asked the questions in deposition. If the answer is different at the trial, it is perjury. If the answer is the same, it helps their case.