- Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of a long-running dispute between Google and Uber over self-driving technology, has filed for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay Google $179 million.
- Levandowski was part of Google’s self-driving project Waymo but left in 2016 to found his own self-driving company Otto, which was later acquired by Uber.
- Levandowski’s cofounder Lior Ron — who still works for Uber — reached a settlement with Google last month for $9.7 million. Uber confirmed on Wednesday it has paid Ron’s settlement in full.
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The former head of Uber’s self-driving technology unit, Anthony Levandowski, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, shortly after a court confirmed that he must pay $179 million to Google to end a legal battle over his split from the Alphabet unit.
Levandowski’s legal dispute with Google started after he left Google’s self-driving project Waymo to start his own self-driving company. That was later bought up by Uber, and Levandowski was appointed as head of its own self-driving division.
The case sparked a long-running fight between Google and Uber over self-driving technology. Google’s Waymo sued Uber in 2017, accusing Levandowski stealing roughly 14,000 confidential files when he left in 2016. The Department of Justice also indicted Levandowski on charges of stealing the files in August 2019.
Levandowski, who had been a key engineer at Waymo, and colleague Lior Ron engaged in unfair competition and breached their legal obligations by starting a rival company called Otto and bringing over Google employees, an arbitration panel ruled in December.
Uber indemnifies workers under its employment agreements. But Uber has said in financial filings that it expects to challenge paying the big judgment against Levandowski, who was fired from the company in 2017.
Uber declined to comment. Levandowski’s attorney Neel Chatterjee did not respond to a request for comment.
Levandowski filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, enabling him to negotiate debts. He has $50 million to $100 million in estimated assets, compared with $100 million to $500 million in liabilities, according to his filing.
He had disputed the arbitration ruling, but a San Francisco County court on Wednesday confirmed the arbitration panel’s decision and award.
Ron, who remains at Uber, settled with Google for $9.7 million last month, and Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo confirmed on Wednesday that Uber had paid the full amount that Ron owed.
Waymo said it would “continue to take the necessary steps to ensure our confidential information is protected.”