A shareholder glitch comes to the surface for Uber as Travis Kalanick, the Former Chief Executive Officer of Uber Technologies Inc., failed to provide crucial information to the company’s Board of Directors about an acquisition at the base of a lawsuit and trial by Waymo, as per the statement of a former Uber board member in a court filing.
In the words of Bill Gurley (a partner at the firm Benchmark’s venture capital), as stated to Waymo’s lawyers in an August deposition, Kalanick’s failure was condemnable as it “crossed a line of violating fraud and fiduciary duty.” Due to Kalanick’s dishonesty which resulted in a lack of clarity about details of an important report to the board, Benchmark cast its vote in approval of the acquisition that led to the trade-secrets case now hangs on trial in San Francisco federal court, as per Gurley as in the transcript of the court deposition that was filed overnight.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former CEO, has to testify in a trial over claims that Uber allegedly used stolen Waymo trade secrets to accelerate its efforts to develop automated cars this Tuesday or possibly Wednesday. Although Waymo indicated calling Gurley as a witness, whether the jurors will actually get to know of Gurley’s August testimony is still to be clarified.
Uber asked the judge to restrict Waymo from questioning Gurley about his reaction to a pending diligence report that vetted the acquisition of Otto in front of a full packed house of the jury, contending that doing so would be “improper and prejudicial”, as the jurors would be than hearing Gurley’s standpoint on the acquisition in hindsight after he had reviewed the report back in 2017.
“The testimony the company is seeking to exclude is irrelevant and speculative, and it should be excluded,” stated one of Kalanick’s representatives electronically.
Last month, Benchmark filed a lawsuit against Kalanick when SoftBank Group Corp’s $9.3 billion share purchase came to its end, as that was one of the predetermined settlement conditions set by the firm, the other being to execute a set of governance reforms that included a shift in voting power from the early shareholders of Uber, Kalanick, and Benchmark being one of them. A SoftBank stock transaction that was successfully completed on January 18, yielded as much as $1.4 billion to Kalanick as the stockholder.
Following Kalanick’s blunder, Uber is also cautiously asking U.S. District Judge William Alsup to block Waymo from sharing some sections of the key diligence report with jurors that the ride-sharing company claims to lack credibility as they are “hearsay” and thereby stand unverified as factual evidence. Notes of an interview of Levandowski by a forensics investigator, which was formerly kept out of public outrage, is among one of those sections. In the notes, the engineer is recorded saying “yes” in response to whether he had any Google trade secrets or not.
As in the notes further, Levandowski has declined to answer questions throughout about whether he divulged proprietary information from Waymo to Uber, propping up his right to exercise his constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Now, on the Waymo side of the case, in its own filings, Waymo argued that both the Gurley testimony and the Levandowski interview are rather fair shots as per rules of the law book and that they should not be excluded so as to keep the jurors intimated with the substantial and relevant information.
For those who are interested in looking up the case themselves, here it is, the legal battle of Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies Inc., 17-cv-00939, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).