Ex-Employee's Letter Accusing Uber Of Espionage Goes Public

A 37-page letter authored by an attorney of Uber's former employee Richard Jacobs was made public following weeks of deliberations and arguing on the part of both the San Francisco-based startup and Waymo, revealing the full extent of the accusations laid out by the company's ex-security analyst. While Uber previously claimed Mr. Jacobs was an extortionist, the firm ended up paying him $4.5 million to avoid going to court over the matter, in addition to giving $3 million to his lawyer, claiming it did so to avoid even higher litigation costs. Both Waymo's representatives and Judge William H. Alsup presiding over their high-profile trade secret dispute expressed skepticism in regards to the truthfulness of Uber's claims, with the court ultimately making the controversial letter public after stating Uber withheld important evidence from the plaintiff.

The accusatory letter was sent to the ride-hailing service provider by Mr. Jacobs's attorney in April after he resigned in response to being demoted for what Uber claims were performance-related reasons. The former security analyst has a different view of the events, accusing the company of punishing him for "refusing to participate in unlawful activity." Among other things, Mr. Jacobs claims Uber relied on CIA-trained contractors to collect foreign intelligence on rivals, stating that at least one sovereign country was the victim of Uber's espionage. The company also bribed unspecified government officials in order to facilitate its activities in their jurisdictions and went to great lengths to conceal and destroy any evidence of such practices and other foul play, the letter suggests. Surveillance of high-level executives from foreign rivals was conducted by the recently fired Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan at a direct request of former Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, Mr. Jacobs claims.

The letter doesn't allege Uber practiced such behavior domestically but competent authorities in the United States are still exploring that possibility which Waymo is also trying to prove as part of its lawsuit claiming Uber is using some of its copyrighted LiDAR designs in its self-driving vehicles. The existence of the letter itself was revealed to Judge Alsup by the Department of Justice in late November, with the unconventional move itself confirming the federal agency is presently leading at least one criminal investigation of Uber's practices. According to recent reports, at least three federal criminal probes of Uber's activities are currently being conducted. Waymo's lawsuit against Uber will go to trial in late winter after two delays prompted by what the court deemed were the defendant's efforts to withhold and conceal evidence of its wrongdoing.

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