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Kalanick Grilled about 'Cheat Codes' at Trial

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 08, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Travis Kalanick took a back seat at Uber last year, but he was back in the hot seat this week.

The former Uber CEO, who was forced out under pressure from investors, was the main attraction at the trial in Waymo v. Uber. Google's self-driving car division claims Uber took its technology.

Kalanick, testifying in the biggest case to hit Silicon Valley in years, admitted that he wanted Waymo's self-driving engineer. But he denied Uber took the self-driving technology. Ya think?

"Cheat Codes"

During two days on the witness stand, Kalanick faced off with Waymo's attorneys. They tried to make Kalanick look like "a greedy egotist" who would stop at nothing, CNet reported.

According to minutes from a business meeting, Kalanick said one of his top priorities was "cheat codes, find them, use them." Attorney Charles Verhoeven asked: "You said this in a meeting, didn't you?"

"It's quite possible," Kalanick replied.

But the attorney couldn't get him to crack. Kalanick said he didn't know Waymo's engineer took 14,000 data files when he left.

Levandowski Connection

Right after leaving Waymo, Anthony Levandowski started his own company. Uber promptly paid $680 million for the company and everything that came with it.

"I wanted to hire Anthony and he wanted to start a company," Kalanick said. "I tried to come up with a situation where he'd feel like he started a company, and I'd feel like I hired him."

Levandowski will have an opportunity to explain his actions when he takes the witness stand. However, he is expected to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege, in part, because the judge referred the matter to federal authorities.

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