Travis Kalanick Takes the Stand

Yolanda Curtis
February 8, 2018

The list of expected witnesses includes both the combative Kalanick and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Gurley, an early Uber backer who later helped engineer Kalanick's departure as Uber's CEO.

Verhoeven is painting a picture of Uber as a company that would do anything to win.

By contrast, Uber attempted to show that Kalanick didn't orchestrate the misappropriation of trade secrets in any way.

Under Kalanick's leadership, Uber became known for an overly aggressive culture rife with gender bias, unprofessional business practices and even a secret tool, called Greyball, that it used to identify authorities trying to crack down on the ride-hailing service.

Kalanick spoke Wednesday during testimony in a trial pitting Uber's ride-hailing service against Google's self-driving vehicle spinoff, Waymo.

Two of the world's richest people, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, also may testify about the importance of Waymo's self-driving project and Levandowski's role in it. Verhoeven asked just before showing the film excerpt.

"You clicked on that link didn't you sir?"

"That's a famous speech isn't it sir?" There was some dispute as to whether the clip was admissible, but the judge ultimately allowed Kalanick to be questioned about it, reportedly adding that in his opinion, "It was one of the best moments in all of Hollywood".

"Isn't it true sir that you didn't read this agreement before you signed it?"

Kalanick was pressured by investors to step down as CEO a month after Levandowski's firing, partly because of concerns about Waymo's lawsuit. "You're stuck with that report", he said.

Shortly thereafter, it was Uber's turn. "So to my mind, anything that those investigators at Stroz wrote down as having been said by Levandowski or anybody else is accurate".

"To no extent at all". "I looked at David Drummond and Larry Page kind of like big brothers ... maybe trying to get more time than they were trying to give".

Instead, Kalanick told a civil jury, he hired engineer Anthony Levandowski because he was "incredibly visionary, a very good technologist". "How that changes the way cities work and couple that with the driverless system". In one meeting, Kalanick reportedly made it clear that he wanted a "pound of flesh" and "I.P." out of a deal with Levandowski, and another internal document, reviewed in court and allegedly written by a senior Uber executive, noted that Kalanick promoted the use of "cheat codes" against the competition and declared, "The golden time is over; it's war time". Google was an early investor in Uber, but the companies started to drift apart as it became clear that Google was interested in the ride-hailing market while Uber meant to build self-driving cars.

The competitive pressures were so great to develop self-driving cars in 2015 that the then chief executive of ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc, Travis Kalanick, decided that "winning was more important than obeying the law", Mr Verhoeven said. Google was looking to create its own self-driving competitor.

"I did not", Kalanick answered. He founded his own startup, Otto, which Uber bought a few months later for $680 million.

However, the relationship soured after Uber started its own driverless vehicle programme in 2015. "The general understanding is Google is doing this self-driving thing". "We were figuring out a way to partner".

Also on Tuesday, Uber's attorneys attempted to convince the jury the eight self-driving technology trade secrets at the heart of the case are not special inventions.

The jury will have to decide whether the documents were indeed trade secrets and not common knowledge, and whether Uber improperly acquired them, used them and benefited from them.

He also said he was not told by Levandowski that he would bring Google secrets to Uber, or that he had downloaded files from the rival company. The case is likely to conclude within two to three weeks.

This is a developing story.

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