one of silicon The Valley’s most infamous characters narrowly avoided – once again – the worst consequences of their actions.
Anthony Levandowski has reached a payment agreement last week, which settles a series of disputes with its two former employers, Uber and Google, and ends one of the most dramatic and complicated stories in the autonomous vehicle industry.
Levandowski, an early pioneer in the AV industry, left Google and founded his own company Otto, which was quickly acquired by Uber in 2016. This acquisition would lead to a trade secret theft lawsuit that pitted Waymo (the former directorial project Google autonomous) against Uber. Levandowski would eventually lose his position at Uber and face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit. The final piece of this multi-year legal drama seems to finally be resolved.
Under the settlement, Uber will pay Google a “substantial part” of the $179 million it received in arbitration in 2019 that led Levandowski to file for bankruptcy. Uber will also pay Levandowski $2 million. ONE court filing notes that Levandowski’s financial adviser believes the settlement will give him enough money to pay all claims against him.
The settlement avoids a potentially embarrassing trial for Uber and could also mark the beginning of the end of Levandowski’s bankruptcy process. In keeping with Levadowski’s dramatic path through the world of self-driving cars, his legal cases have had many twists and turns.
If the settlement is approved by the court, it would be a triumph for Levandowski, who faced financial ruin, and an 18-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to a single charge of stealing a Google trade secret. Levandowski was pardoned in January 2021 at 11 am by former President Trump.
Uber is not paying Google the full $179 million award; the exact value has been edited into filings and is protected by a confidentiality clause.
However, the physical size of the edited amount suggests it is less than $100 million.
Whatever the exact amount, other creditors in Levandowski’s bankruptcy could receive the same proportion of their credits that Uber is paying from Google, plus some extra payments if cash is left over. Or they may receive 50% as a one-time final payment. This would only be a rational choice if Uber’s upfront payment is less than half of what Google should.
“Peace between these critical groups ensures that ongoing litigation over these disputes and the risk and expense associated with them will cease,” the three parties wrote in a document.
Notably, Levandowski even appears to have gotten Uber and Google to help pay for the settlement that freed him. A clause therein notes: “The parties will provide for the award of an administrative action by Levandowski, in his personal capacity, for the payment of attorneys’ fees in the negotiation of this Letter of Intent in an amount not to exceed $30,000 (the value of which is exclusive of the US$30,000). 25,000 in advance).
Uber was potentially on the hook for the Google award because it had signed an indemnity agreement with Levandowski when the ride-sharing giant acquired its self-driving truck startup Otto in 2016. The agreement provided legal coverage for Levandowski for his actions during and after. his job at Google’s self-driving vehicle program Chauffeur, which later became Waymo.
This later turned out to have included starting a rival company to deal with Google, removing technical data from the company, and enticing several Google engineers to defect with him. Uber paid much of Levandowski’s legal costs during his criminal trial, but was capped at the arbitration award, which recouped the roughly $120 million Levandowski earned at Google, plus interest and attorney fees.
Uber claimed that Levandowski hadn’t shared all of his “bad deeds” before joining the company, which could have voided the deal. Levandowski, for his part, claimed that Uber knew he had withheld large amounts of technical information and asked Googlers to date him, and indemnified him anyway.
A trial to decide Uber’s liability was due to begin in San Francisco today, with Levandowski planning to call high-profile witnesses, including Uber founder Travis Kalanick and his former head of autonomous driving, now Carnegie Robotics CEO John Bares. .
The bankruptcy case did not pass without its own revelations. Court documents show that, prior to filing for bankruptcy, Levandowski bought his fiancee a $25,000 engagement ring, invested $250,000 in his business, gave her a $130,000 Tesla and made payments to her of more than $250,000. US$300,000. He has also invested more than $8.5 million in his newest self-driving truck startup, Pronto.ai. The documents detail Levandowski’s extensive holdings in real estate, mutual funds and business with family members.
At several points, Google’s lawyers were effectively working with Levandowski’s, as their success in holding Uber accountable for the arbitration award seemed to represent the company’s best hope of getting paid.
The settlement now requires the Levandowski estate to make its own payments to Google, worth at least $25 million and up to $30 million if sufficient funds are available. Levandowski must also “declare and warrant” that he has no further disclosed Google’s secrets or confidential information to anyone else, and in particular to “Pronto.ai or any entity related to Pronto.ai”.
Pronto.ai recently announced a pivot for the development of a cryptocurrency-powered peer-to-peer telecommunications network, called Pollen. pollen website shows that its initial release of devices has sold out, with Levandowski’s brother Max (who has worked with him at Otto, Uber and Pronto.ai) saying on LinkedIn that a new version of the hardware is planned.
Uber did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the deal. Google spokesman José Castañeda wrote: “We can confirm that this matter has been resolved.”
Levandowski didn’t respond to messages either, but it’s hard to see the deal as anything other than a win for the engineer, who could soon be free to move forward with his Pollen network free of costly, time-consuming lawsuits and outstanding debt.