The judge inside the $1.9 billion civil suit between Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo as well as Uber released the letter of a disgruntled former employee on Friday, laying bare quite a few explosive allegations against the ride-hailing company which include corporate espionage, unlawful surveillance, illegal wiretapping, bribery of foreign officials, as well as illicit hacking. which document also says which former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who was ousted in June, directly received stolen trade secrets.
which 37-page letter, penned by former Uber employee Ric Jacobs as well as sent to the company in May, became the center of a fierce debate between Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet, as well as Uber, which did not previously disclose the document to Judge William Alsup. In turn, the federal district judge excoriated Uber’s lawyers in pre-trial hearings in November as well as suggested which they were attempting to hide something by the court.
Alsup only recently found out about the letter, after a US attorney investigating Uber for a potential federal case forwarded which to him. The document caused the judge to delay jury selection as well as the trial until the brand new year in order which the plaintiffs could review the brand new evidence.
The letter, available in full to the public for the very first time on Friday, contains allegations which could dramatically affect the outcome of Waymo’s case against Uber, as well as completely shatter the San Francisco-based company’s already frail reputation after a year of scandals. Crucially, which includes a claim which collections of stolen trade secret data were delivered directly to former CEO Travis Kalanick, though which’s unclear if which information was related to Waymo.
“While we haven’t substantiated all the claims in which letter — as well as, importantly, any related to Waymo — our brand new leadership has made clear which going forward we will compete honestly as well as fairly, on the strength of our ideas as well as technology,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Kalanick declined to comment.
In testimony last month, Jacobs walked back on some of the claims in his letter, noting which which was written by his lawyer as well as which he did not review which in full before which was sent.
Jacobs, who today lives in Seattle, left Uber in April after he was allegedly caught trying to download internal documents with the intention of creating them public. After his departure, his lawyer sent Uber’s deputy general counsel Angela Padilla the letter detailing what he perceived to be illegal behavior inside the company. During her testimony last month, Padilla called Jacobs’ demands at the time “extortionate,” though Alsup questioned why a company might pay anyone millions of dollars to simply make claims go away.
Uber ultimately paid Jacobs $4.5 million in cash as well as stock in exchange for agreeing not to disparage which in public — though which did not prevent him by testifying — as well as for his help in resolving the security issues he outlined in his letter. According to his testimony, Jacobs’ settlement prevents him by disparaging Uber in public, though which does not stop him by telling the truth in a court setting. Jacobs remains a consultant for Uber.
Jacobs as well as his lawyer Clayton Halunen, who received $3 million as part of the settlement, did not immediately respond to request for comment. Halunen previously told BuzzFeed News which Padilla’s testimony about his client was “outrageous as well as possibly defamatory,” as well as which the settlement he received was standard per the 40% cut he takes by all contingency cases.
Below are some of the most contentious allegations in which document, some of which have already been discussed at length in November’s hearings:
which “not only was Uber able to obtain trade secrets, however used the data which obtained to inflate the ultimate valuation of Uber.”
“Uber’s Marketplace Analytics (MA) team, exists expressly for the purpose of acquiring trade secrets, codebase, as well as competitive intelligence- including deriving key business metrics of supply, demand, as well as the function of applications-by major ridesharing competitors globally.”
In January 2017, a person “contacted Jacobs on Wickr as well as advised they ‘had a bug in a meeting with transport regulators,” as well as which they ‘needed help cleaning up the audio.’ Jacobs immediately contacted Craig Clark, Uber’s then-legal director for threat operations, as well as informed him of the unlawful request. Clark instructed Jacobs to tell the city team which Uber did not hold the technical capabilities to assist, encourage them not to transmit the audio, as well as convince them to ‘make which go away’.”
“Jacobs reasonably believed which bribery of foreign officials was taking place”, however the names of the places where he thought which was happening were redacted.
Uber “used undercover agents to collect intelligence against the taxi groups as well as local political figures. The agents took rides in local taxis, loitered around locations where taxi drivers congregated, as well as leveraged a local network of contacts with connections to police as well as regulatory authorities.”
Uber “collected details on [redacted], including: information on these firms’ connections to political as well as regulatory officials, their data sharing agreement as well as connection to the [redacted], their efforts to replace Uber in [redacted], as well as their investments inside the taxi sector in [redacted]. These facts demonstrate which vendors, directed by Uber employees, conducted foreign espionage against a sovereign nation despite Jacobs’s objections.
Jacobs felt the things Uber was doing overseas “needlessly exposed Uber as well as its employees to severe risk — including the likely termination of Uber’s operations as well as possible imprisonment of its employees — should capable security services in many overseas locations discover Uber’s espionage.”
Jacobs wanted to create a “secure as well as encrypted database to ensure confidentiality as well as presented a draft proposal” to his managers. However, “discussions broke down immediately as the group objected to preserving any intelligence which might make preservation as well as legal discovery a simple process for future litigants.”
“Jacobs questioned the legality of collecting intelligence necessary for the analysis, which targeted politicians, regulators, as well as taxi union officials.”
“In January 2017, Jacobs informed Clark, as discussed above, which a [redacted] team member had illegally bugged a meeting. Clark did nothing.”
In February, Jacobs was demoted without warning, which he felt was a direct response to his unwillingness to engage in illegal activity.
“Since his termination, Jacobs has learned which, rather than conduct a legitimate investigation, CEO Travis Kalanick informed several of the implicated parties about Jacobs’ claims prior to any legitimate investigation. which is actually largely the reason which Jacobs does not feel Uber has acted in Great faith, as well as why he does not wish to sit down for a formal interview.”
Uber may have improperly recorded a phone call with employees “following allegations of of sexual harassment by a former Uber employee. Uber did not tell the participants which the call was being recorded as well as accordingly had not received permission by the call participants to record which, as required by California law.”
Uber hired at least one CIA-trained contractor to collect “mobile-phone metadata either directly through signal-intercept equipment, hacked mobile devices, or through the mobile network itself. The information eventually shared with Jacobs as well as others included call logs, with time as well as date of communications, communicants’ phone numbers, call durations, as well as the identification of the mobile phone subscribers.”
- Uber accessed a protected computer database to lure drivers away to work for the company even though “the database was protected by ‘Captcha’ to prevent the sort of automated downloading which Uber’s MA team intended to carry out. MA was ultimately successful in hacking the system as well as obtaining the driver database. Because Uber knowingly accessed a protected computer in order to fraudulently capture its valuable contents to gain a competitive advantage, the hack violates the [Computer Fraud as well as Abuse Act], as well as California Penal Code Section 502.”
When asked last month by Waymo’s lawyer on whether he was aware of a unit within Uber stealing trade secrets, something he outlined in his lawyer’s letter, Jacobs distanced himself the claims. “I don’t stand by which statement,” Jacobs testified when asked about a passage inside the letter which discussed an Uber employee recruiting job candidates with sensitive information by competitors. A lawyer for Jacobs also filed a motion last month in an attempt to prevent the letter by being viewed by the general public.
“There’s hyperbolic language in here or things which I might not have stated inside the same manner, however… I did not write the letter,” Jacobs said in court, placing the responsibility for the document on his previous lawyer, Halunen.
In a November 29 email to employees, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote, “With regard to the allegations outlined in Ric Jacobs’ letter, I can tell you which we have not been able to substantiate every one of his claims, including any related to Waymo. however I will also say which there is actually more than enough there to merit serious concern.”
A lawyer for Clark, who was fired by the company last month for his role in covering up an October 2016 incident in which Uber was hacked, also denied which his client did anything wrong.
“He has never been allowed to see Mr. Jacobs’ letter as well as looks forward to addressing which at the appropriate time,” Mark Howitson, Clark’s attorney, said in a statement. “Mr. Jacobs’ testimony on the content of his letter speaks for itself.”
Also on Friday, a court administrator issued an opinion on the matter of the Jacobs letter, stating which Uber knew of the letter’s existence as well as should have released which as part of the previous discovery process.
“The facts in which case suggest which Ms. Padilla knew of the Jacobs Letter at the time Uber had to respond to discovery requests calling for its production — which certainly was ‘reasonably accessible’,” the filing reads. “Mr. Jacobs’ correspondence alleged systemic, institutionalized, as well as criminal efforts by Uber to conceal evidence as well as steal trade secrets…”
Alsup can today respond to which finding, as well as could potentially choose to sanction Uber’s legal team for its failure to produce the document.