Waymo May Revisit Dropped Fraud Lawsuit Against Ex-Uber CEO

Alphabet's self-driving subsidiary Waymo may be looking to revisit a fraud lawsuit filed against Uber's former Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick last summer, Bloomberg reports, citing a deposition transcript submitted to a San Francisco court that's presiding over the duo's high-profile legal clash which officially went to trial on Monday. The litigation filed by Uber investor Benchmark Capital in mid-August alleged Mr. Kalanick defrauded the startup's board of directors by adding three more seats to it in mid-2016 without fully disclosing the extent of the company's issues and what the plaintiff deemed was "gross mismanagement," specifically mentioning the firm's acquisition of self-driving startup Otto for $680 million completed several months after the board manoeuvre. The so-called Stroz Report was one of the subjects of the complaint, with the formerly secretive document alleging Otto's founder Anthony Levandowski whom Uber later gave the lead of its autonomous driving unit possibly took some of Waymo's trade secrets before leaving what was then still a Google division in late 2015 to establish his own business.

Benchmark's Bill Gurley was deposed by Waymo over the matter in August, around the time the original lawsuit was filed, testifying that Mr. Kalanick "crossed a line of violating fraud and fiduciary duty" with his actions in 2016 prior to the acquisition of Otto that Waymo now argues was the beginning of Uber's supposed trade secret theft. Mr. Kalanick successfully forced the fraud lawsuit into arbitration in late summer, with the litigation being dropped by Benchmark last month following SoftBank's $9.3 billion investment in the ride-hailing company. The Japanese tech giant specifically asked for the lawsuit to be retracted if what ended up being the largest private stock purchase in the history of trading was to be completed. During his deposition, Mr. Gurley, a former director at Uber, argued Benchmark would have never voted to approve the Otto purchase if it was aware of all of the troubling circumstances surrounding it.

Mr. Gurly has been listed as one of Waymo's witnesses in the case but it remains to be seen whether the plaintiff manages to call him to the stand, with Uber recently requesting his courtroom appearance to be canceled so that Waymo isn't able to use it to generate what it deems is unfounded speculation among jurors. The trial that started yesterday is expected to primarily consist of witness testimonies for the next two weeks.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]