Text / Charles Duhigg
Translation / meniscus
[CSDN Editor's Note] Job-hopping is a common thing in the Silicon Valley technology circle, but recently a backbone of Google's auto-driving car division has caught the attention of the industry. The genius engineer Anthony · Lewandowski was previously the core leader of Google's self-driving car project, but "hope to use the power of technology to change the world", he was hacked to Uber, but was met by Google's " Surrounded by the interception, and swindled it to the court with the crime of stealing trade secrets.
At present, the case is still in a stalemate, and both Uber and Lewandowski are exhausted. What is the truth? Do practitioners in the tech circle need to define the boundaries of knowledge? What should be done to "Mingzhe protects" & rdquo;? The author of this article, Charles Duhigg, elaborated on the whole story after interviewing the Lewandos basics and Google executives.
The following is the translation:
In 2011, a team of engineers working on secret projects at Google received an email from a colleague. “The general coming will come,” the email said, “Anthony is going to be fired. "In a self-service café in the company's headquarters, several people who received emails gathered to exchange ideas about Anthony · Lewandowski's gossip —— he is the company's most talented, One of the most well-known employees, but obviously this time he has done too much.
Genius engineer Lewandowski
Lewandowski is a talented engineer. He is often interviewed by newspapers and magazines, and of course this interview about future robotics. On Google's campus, Lewandowski is very talented: he is two meters tall, wearing the same clothes every day — — jeans and gray T-shirts, which is a sign in Silicon Valley, indicating that he wants to put his own Energy is reserved for more lofty goals. He is often invited to speak at the company's brainstorming session, so everyone knows (some people even hate it) that he really wants to use the power of technology to change the world.
Anthony · Anthony Levandowski
It was Lewandowski and his colleagues who persuaded Google's leadership to invest millions of dollars in self-driving cars. Four years ago, Lewandowski and his team won the DARPA Grand Prix, a government-funded autonomous driving competition aimed at crossing the deserts of California and Nevada. Most of the contestants who created the races created self-driving cars, but Lewandowski made a self-driving motorcycle called "The Evil Knight" & mdash; — later he admitted that he thought this novelty The name can attract a lot of attention.
Lewandowski (second from right) and his team developed "The Evil Knight" & Unmanned Motorcycle
Although the result of the evil spirit knight just appeared, it was very embarrassing —— just running a few feet off the starting line was broken, but it was very successful in everything else: Lewandowski’s courage coupled with his talent, let him Become a star in the game. The American Museum of History even permanently collects the evil spirits, and in 2007, Lewandowski, who was only 27 years old and only had a master's degree in engineering from UC Berkeley, received a million-dollar offer from Google. Google also hired Lewandowski’s entire team.
At the time, Google wanted to use software to provide navigational instructions to help people find the best route to the store or gym in the city, thereby ruling the market for navigation services. Google predicts that as smartphones mature, users will be more willing to provide digital information about their location and destination, and that data is invaluable for a company that sells primarily. To make the software more perfect, Google needs complete ground information, such as speed limit signs on the road, which roads the naked eye can recognize, which ones are easier to walk, which ones need to be changed. Lewandowski and his team members who participated in the Grand Prix developed a method to stitch thousands of terrain photos together at a small cost and then use them with GPS coordinates to help in the mountains and riverbeds. Self-driving car navigation. This technology maps city streets, but first requires millions of the latest photos. After Lewandowski joined Google, he began planning to send hundreds of cars, equipped with cameras, to take pictures of roads across the United States. But he met Google’s bureaucracy.
At the time, Google was less than 10 years old, but it already had more than 17,000 employees, including a large number of middle managers. Lewandowski recently told me, "One reason they want to hire me is that Larry · Page knows that we are very energetic and we will not stick to the rules." ” Google's co-founder and CEO Larry · Page often complains that the company is getting bigger and bigger and has lost the hacker spirit that has brought the company's initial success. When Lewandowski joined, Google’s bureaucracy was growing.
“ It may take a few months to recruit someone. ” Lewandowski told me. “Google has a plan called WorkforceLogic, and it’s very complicated to recruit. So, one day I decided to advertise directly on Craigslist. Anyone who seems to be able to get the job done, I will recruit, and then I will pay them with my own money. So this way is called AnthonyforceLogic. & rdquo; At that time Lewandowski also went to the car sales shop to buy more than 100 cars. At that time, one of his managers told me, “We were shocked when we got his reimbursement documents. The sum of all the other employees in his department was not as much as his own expenses. The accountant was paralyzed at the time: ‘ What is this ghost? & rsquo; But Larry · Page said, & lsquo; reimbursed him. & rsquo; We only reported to him. Larry hopes that everyone can overcome the obstacles and tell others that you can do something that seems impossible. ”
The company asked Lewandowski and his team to shoot 1 million miles of roads in a year. It took them nine months to complete, and then set up an office in Hyderabad, India, to map photos to every street. (Today, Google Maps has become a monopolistic navigation application that is used by more than 30 million people every day.) Lewandowski and his boss Sebastian · Shi Lang (also a member of another Grand Prix) Just as Google’s leadership proposes, the next step is to develop autonomous cars. In 2009, a small team led by Shi Lang was formed. They were assigned to a secret autonomous driving department with the project code “Driver”. Lewandowski's goal is hardware development.
The team's first task was to find out how to equip the car with “eyes”, a technology that connects the laser and camera on the roof to the computer to capture the roads, signs, pedestrians, Other motor vehicles, etc. This system was previously done in college, and each system took several years. Lewandowski once again found other solutions. After joining Google, he created two separate companies, 510 Systems and Anthony's Robots, which each owned ownership of his self-driving motorcycles and other projects. He found that if the “driver” project could purchase hardware from his company, it would be possible to skip years of useless research. Therefore, Lewandowski proposed to the company to use Google's money to acquire key technologies from his company.
Google agrees. Although some management knows this unusual decision, many people are unaware of it. “At first, no one knew that Anthony sold it to us, but in the end everyone found out. ” A former colleague of Lewandowski told me. “It seems that this transaction seems to be in a gray area, but everyone wants to move forward as soon as possible, and this solution is really easy, so we didn’t ask too many questions. Finally proved that this is a mistake. ”
In the next few years, the “driver” project grew to a few hundred people, and Google also built an autonomous driving team. The transportation industry is one of the largest in the world, and if Google can be the first company to implement commercial autonomous vehicle technology, the technology will exceed billions of dollars. Lewandowski is at the heart of Google's plans, but as the driver's project expands, his leadership style is increasingly fragmented. He is very good at solving problems and is good at teamwork, but he is very rude and possessive, and it is easy to despise people who disagree with him.
He also seems to value his reward very much. A colleague from Lewandowski said, “Once we met together to discuss how much we want to earn from the driver project. I told him that I want to earn $100 million. This goal is actually incredible in my opinion. Then —— I remember very clearly —— Anthony looked at me with a pitiful expression, saying that my eyes were too narrow. He said that we have to earn billions of dollars, at least. This technology will change the world, and he should get at least a billion dollars. "Lewandowski sometimes wears a custom-made grey T-shirt, a gift from a colleague that says "I drank your milkshake" —— from "Blood will To a line of "This is Paul · Thomas · Anderson filmed a film about the black heart oil tycoon. “He is almost a replica of that person,” said the colleague, “It’s a jerk. Since then we have secretly discussed expelling him. ”
However, according to information from former Google executives, when Page heard that Lewandowski might be fired or might resign, he made a reservation. Google needs talent like him. Many major innovations, such as Gmail and AdSense, have been around for five years, and the technology industry is already an old technology. Many “moon landings” programs (those planning to build new companies to diversify Google’s revenues) have cost billions of dollars, but rarely produce useful results. Google spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing Google Glass (augmented reality device announced in 2012, which was greatly welcomed by fans), but after confirming that performance was not as expected and unstable, it could only silently give up the project. . Even Google’s acquisition of new startups, such as Nest, a smart thermostat manufacturer acquired in 2014, is often discontinued as soon as the acquisition is completed.
Page ordered his subordinates to negotiate the purchase of 510 Systems and Anthony's Robots and consider giving Lewandowski greater leadership. “With Larry’s asylum, Anthony finally revealed his true colors,” said a former Google executive. “They are friends, they like to have dinner and discuss geeks together. ”
But in the driver project, I want to promote Lewandowski and I have encountered a lot of resistance. In an email to colleagues, Shi Lang said that several team members are “worry about Anthony’s sense of responsibility and honesty”. Another executive, David Lawee, also wrote that even if Google is willing to “take the risk of appointing Anthony” and complete the acquisition, “I would also like to say that if I would rather choose a partner to start the company, it would never Choose Anthony. ”
But Page is stubborn. According to Google's internal mail, he ordered the management "as long as the driver project is successful, willing to let Anthony make a fortune". Two months later, Google acquired 510 Systems for $22 million and also acquired Anthony's Robots. In return, Google assured Lewandowski that in the future, Lewandowski will pay a huge bonus based on the total value of the driver's project. Google agrees to pay him one-tenth of the value of the entire department, but pays for it in a shadow option that is exercised within four years. This equity ultimately paid him more than $120 million, the largest bonus in Google’s history.
510Systems' driverless car "Pribot" is the prototype of Google's driverless car
“Sometimes, the best way to get promoted at Google is to threaten them to quit. & Levdowski told me, "If you tell them, & lsquo; Hey, I have to go to my own business, & rsquo; they will say, & lsquo; Well, we have to buy you. & rsquo; This is the style of doing things in Silicon Valley. You have to create pressure. Here, the real winners are those who believe in the future and are willing to take risks to achieve the future. ”
Silicon Valley's "Betrayal Culture"
In Silicon Valley, there are as many betrayals and innovations. The earliest betrayal dates back to 1957, when Silicon Valley was created by a group of young engineers who discussed and betrayed the boss. The engineers worked for William · William Shockley, who won the Nobel Prize for his contributions to the transistor invention and was also a bad boss. He founded a small company, a fruit farm in Mountain View, California. He chose this location because he was close to his mother, and his office was less than three miles from today's Google location.
William · Shockley employees toast to congratulate him on winning the 1956 Nobel Prize
Shockley recruited a small team to make first-generation transistors, many of which were students who had just graduated from Stanford and MIT. In just one year, most employees are ready to change jobs. Shockley is a paranoid micromanager and a racist who is very angry. He later went to donate, but with the addition of conditions, only sperm were allowed to be used by women who passed the Mensa test (a high IQ test). He was extremely suspicious of his subordinates, and even asked all employees to lie. One of the top engineers at Shockley found that they had the same dissatisfaction with the boss, so they contacted another company called Fairchild. They are willing to help them create a new company. When the eight men told Shockley that they were going to resign, his assistant told them that it felt like it was “by a good friend who had a knife in the back”.
After the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor, <8 Rebellion”
These betrayers were later called "eight rebellious", although they did not like the name, but this was the first shot of the Silicon Valley traitors. The company created by the rebellious eight, Fairchild Semiconductor, brought wealth to the founders and brought the word “wafer” to the world. It also cultivated a generation of computer engineers who were good at betrayal. Soon, Fairchild’s employees left to create a new company, with more than a hundred of them, including Teledyne and Intel.
A company founded after the departure of Fairchild employees
In the period of the eight rebellious betrayal of Shockley, as the cradle of the technology industry, many regions are more suitable than Silicon Valley. Boston's Highway 128 is home to many universities and cutting-edge computer companies, and it was soon known as the US Technology Expressway. But in the 1970s, Highway 128 was overtaken by Northern California. Economists later believed that the culture of betrayal in Silicon Valley was the key to its success. Massachusetts law makes it difficult for employees to join a competitor's company or create a new company. Engineers in Boston often have to sign non-competition agreements, and if they quit, they must wait at least a year to join a competitor's company or create their own company. But in California, this non-competition agreement is illegal. The prohibition was accidentally added to state business regulations in the 1870s, when California lawmakers copied the New York Legislature's (but later dismissed) bill to save time. Early California's legislature announced that “a contract to prevent anyone from participating in legitimate activities” was illegal, and no one thought that their decision would change the global economy.
With more and more companies in Silicon Valley, you can even “resign on Friday and then go to another company to work on Monday”, “You don’t even need to tell your wife, just drive to another place on Monday morning. ”—— A California engineer told the economist AnnaLee Saxenian. In California, countless new companies appear every day. In the 1970s, one-third of California technology employees resigned to join competitors or build new companies themselves.
“The career path for Silicon Valley engineers and managers is entirely Brown. ” Ronald J. Gilson's 1999 legal review (http://www.nyulawreview.org/sites/default/files/pdf/NYULawReview-74-3-Gilson.pdf) said, “They move between companies, build startups, support former employers, procure from previous employers, and their careers bring personal relationships and business with other companies and even competitors. relationship. & rdquo; These people jump between companies in California, leading to secrets and internal news everywhere. This kind of communication is called by economists “knowledge diffusion”, which stimulates innovation. “Why is Adidas going to build an office in Portland? ” Sharon Sandeen, an intellectual property expert at Mitchell Hamline Law School, recently told me, "They can actually go anywhere." "But because Nike is located in the Portland area, Adidas has an office there to make it easier for Nike employees to get the knowledge of competitors." Sandeen said, “Knowledge can be leaked. ”
Recent research has shown that in some industries, allowing employees to move freely across companies can significantly increase the speed of innovation. Knowledge leaks have enabled companies to avoid mistakes made by competitors, and this conclusion has led many researchers to make new discoveries. Knowing that competitors will dig their best employees and steal their own secrets will leave many companies unable to lie in past honors. As a former Google executive told me, “We want people to try crazy things so that they can try to think before they steal your ideas. ”
But in recent years, the pace of innovation in Silicon Valley seems to have slowed. The academic community has noticed that many large companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, have not released any revolutionary new products for more than a decade. The iPhone was first released in 2007, Facebook's News Feed was released in 2006, Microsoft's Xbox is 16 years old, and when the market disrupted competitors —— such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Waze—— Large companies generally buy it. Large companies in Silicon Valley often assume that most employees will work in the company for about a decade.
In the increasingly rigid Silicon Valley, Lewandowski is a heresy. A former Google executive said, “Most people will stop fighting after they have money. That's why Anthony is very special —— he never rests. He is the kind of person who works, works, and works until he faints, wakes up and then works and works until he turns the impossible ideas into reality. ”
Even after Lewandowski received more than $100 million in remuneration, he constantly urged himself to “break the frame, be unconventional” and “mdash;—” was said to be indiscriminate in Silicon Valley. “This is both good and bad. "This executive said, "Because sometimes, not seeing the framework can help you do the impossible, sometimes acknowledging that the existence of the framework can prevent you from doing stupid things —— such as going to jail. ”
Lewandowski between Google and Uber
After Google acquired Lewandowski's company, the driver project continued, and Google's investment in autonomous driving technology quickly exceeded $1 billion. Residents of Northern California began to see self-driving cars on the road, the Prius and Lexus with small rotating things on top, often hesitating to stop at the crossroads, just like the novice driver who just learned the car. In 2015, the driver project celebrated autonomous driving mileage of more than 1 million miles.
That year, Lewandowski began to invite some colleagues to talk outside the company. Just like when he started Anthoney's Robots, he considered creating another independent company. It’s been nearly four years since he sold the company to Google, and his options are immediately enforceable, even if he is a very wealthy person according to Silicon Valley standards. But Lewandowski, who now has two children, told his colleagues that he was not complacent. He is not happy at Google because he feels that the disagreement between management has led to the stagnation of the driver's project.
The biggest dispute that Lewandowski faced was the test about autonomous driving. The navigation software of Google's self-driving cars requires a large amount of test drive data to improve, and the most effective way to teach autonomous driving is to repeat, such as constantly moving in and out on busy highways, so that their algorithms can explore each Different situations and learn from mistakes. A human “safety driver” needs to sit in the driver's seat of an autonomous car and be ready to take over when the test is not normal. But in order to chase the boundaries of technology, it is necessary to let the car's software go through extreme situations. “If your job is to improve technology, then safety is definitely not your first consideration. & Levdowski said to me, "If you do, you will accomplish nothing." If you just want to be safe, park your car in the parking lot and you can't learn without errors. ”
One day in 2011, a Google executive, Issac Taylor, found that when he was on vacation, Lewandowski modified the car's software to allow the cars to drive on the road that was originally prohibited. According to a Google executive, Taylor and Lewandowski clashed fiercely that day. Lewandowski told Taylor that only by driving in person can he prove that his approach is necessary. So the two angry people jumped into an autonomous Prius and set off.
After the car drove to the road, it passed a ramp entrance. According to insiders, the Prius had a collision with a Camry. Human drivers can easily slow down and let the Camry plug in, but Google's software can't handle this. The two cars continued to travel at high speed along the highway. Camry's driver hit the car to the right. Then, apparently, in order to avoid hitting the guardrail, Camry turned to the left and finally made a stop in the middle of the highway. Lewandowski, who served as a safety driver, rushed to avoid the collision with the Camry, causing Taylor's spine to be seriously injured and eventually had to undergo multiple operations.
After the Prius re-controlled, he turned a corner on the highway and left the Camry behind. Lewandowski and Taylor didn't know how the Camry's injuries were. They didn't go back and check if the drivers in the car were injured. Other Google executives didn't contact the relevant departments, and no one told the police that the accident was due to automatic. Caused by driving algorithms.
However, Lewandowski was not intimidated by the accident. He later argued that the data obtained from the accident was invaluable and an opportunity to learn how to avoid similar mistakes. He sent an email to his colleague with a video before the accident. The message title is "Prius vs. Camry". (Google refused to send a copy of the video and refused to disclose the exact time and place of the accident.) Lewandowski remained in charge and still drove on the forbidden road.
According to Google’s former executives, more than a dozen accidents occurred in the early years of the driver’s project, and at least three were serious accidents. Google’s test car, nicknamed “KITT”, was chased by a pickup truck after a sudden braking because it could not tell the difference between a yellow light and a red light. Two Google employees in the car were later treated. A former Google executive told me that the pickup truck driver did not have a driver's license, so they were asked not to contact the insurance company. Due to the severe damage to the tail of the KITT, the road had to be permanently left.
In response to questions about these incidents, Google's autonomous driving department considered the cars to be unsafe. “Security is our number one priority when testing and developing technology. & rdquo; A spokesperson wrote. Google said that the KITT incident report was submitted to the relevant department, although many people later received treatment, but “everyone in the accident left the scene on their own. ” As for the Camry accident, the spokesperson said it was "an unfortunate bicycle accident, the other car did not make it possible", because Google's self-driving car did not directly hit the Camry, so Google is not the perpetrator.
Since 2014, California regulations have required companies to report everything involved in autonomous vehicles “an accident that caused property damage or personal injury or death due to collisions caused by any method of testing self-driving cars on public roads. The Camry accident occurred three years before the passage of this regulation. Since the entry into force of the regulation, Google has reported 36 incidents. But if Google still doesn't report incidents that are not being driven by autopilots to other vehicles, there are likely to be more incidents that are not documented.
Phil Ting, a member of the Democratic Party representing San Francisco in the California legislature, has supported autonomous car projects. “If there is any unsafe behavior in an autonomous vehicle, it should be reported in a timely manner. & rdquo; He said, & ldquo; If not reported, it needs to be reviewed. "The former Google senior official said in an accident involving the public, "This is the style of Silicon Valley —— failure as soon as possible, often failing. But these cars are not iPhone apps, and failures can be fatal. ”
In 2015, Lewandowski began to engage in activities between colleagues, and also had a dinner party. At the dinner, he introduced his latest wish: he wanted to build a new autonomous driving company, focusing on self-driving trucks. He said his business model won't conflict with Google. Besides, even if there is a conflict, because he is in California, no one can stop him. He has talked to many investors, including Uber, which has established an autonomous driving department.
Uber CEO Travis · Karanic and Lewandowski
Google’s executives were furious after learning about his digging. Chris Urmson, the driver's project director, wrote in an email to colleagues on August 4, 2015, “We are going to fire Anthony · Lewandowski. I got two different sources today, and they all said that Anthony was building his own team and trying to pull a bunch of people to Uber. ” However, Google’s top leaders, including Page, once again protected Lewandowski. Page's decision may be his personal interest: he also set up a new project himself, a company that researched the flying car, called Kitty Hawk, and asked Lewandowski to help him in his spare time. Other Google executives are also worried that if Lewandowski is fired, the person with whom the hardware department is handing over may leave with him. So Urmson received the order to do everything possible to retain Lewandowski.
Urmson tried to ease the situation, but it didn't help. In January 2016, Lewandowski sent a message to Page to announce his resignation. He said in the letter, “I want to sit in the driver's seat instead of the co-pilot position, but now I feel like I was put in. In the trunk. ”Urmson sent Lewandowski to Google's building. Many Lewandowski team members have already received an offer from his new company, so Urmson has to make a tens of thousands of dollars to ask them to stay with Google. Some people stayed and some refused. Finally, 6-7 employees left Google to join Lewandowski's company.
Soon there will be a gossip that Uber wants to acquire Lewandowski's company —— his company is called Ottomotto. In February 2016, a formal instrument appeared. Uber said they would buy Ottomotto with a one percent stake (then worth $600 million). A former Google engineer said, “This news shocked everyone at the time. If Anthony can take so much, how much should we take? In August, the software director of the driver project wrote to colleagues, “Many people think that they should join Otto earlier this year,” Uber gave the multi-billion dollar “temptation too big”, he added Road, & ldquo; We have another wave of people to reconsider their offer. ”
Drivers of the driver program began to take sick leave and interviewed other companies or venture capital firms. People began to pay attention to other people's shoes, “The only reason people buy new sports shoes is that they are looking for a job. ” One person told me. Puma and Allbirds are everywhere in the office corridor of the driver project. Many employees joined the rival robotics company, and even Urmson resigned himself to start a business.
Google’s leadership is beginning to fear the impact of Uber. “Everyone is scared by Uber,” said the former Google executive. “Uber is the first to know who you are, where you are going, who you go, what companies you go to, and yours. credit card company. With Anthony, they have the same people who can help them avoid billions of mistakes. ”
In the summer of 2016, Google began looking for ways to stop Lewandowski. In August of the same year, there was a hasty handwritten plan on the agenda of the executive meeting: “About Anthony’s departure and his later digs, whether they took confidential information or disclosed trade secrets, from being abused. According to the information, their behavior violates the non-compete agreement. ”
Soon, a group of legal engineers led by Google executive Gary Brown began to sort out the driver project database to find materials that would prevent Uber from acquiring Ottomotto. In the end they found a clue. According to Google, one month before Lewandowski resigned, he connected his work laptop to Google's servers and downloaded about 14,000 files, including hardware drawings. He copied the files to an external hard drive and completely emptied the computer. Soon after, the lawyer learned that during the same period, Lior Ron, a staff member who resigned with Lewandowski, searched on the Internet “how to delete files secretly on mac” and “how to permanently delete Google Drive”. File”. (Ron declined to comment on the matter.) The lawyer later discovered that Lewandowski had sent a message to Ron a few weeks after leaving Google: “Make sure to delete all messages on my computer and iPhone tonight. ” Google feels this is evidence that Lewandowski has stolen the secrets of the driver's project and started Ottomotto's business.
However, when a lawyer asked Google's engineers to evaluate Lewandowski's stolen information, an engineer rated it as “low value” information. He told Google's lawyer in the email that "the lawyer blamed the download behavior for making me feel uncomfortable." ”
In December 2016, Google separated the autopilot division and formed a separate department, Waymo, which means “new move”. In the same month, Waymo's lawyers learned that a middle-level employee had accidentally forwarded an email from an external supplier. The company, called Gorilla Circuits, is responsible for making boards for Uber's self-driving cars. Waymo's lawyer later wrote that these circuit diagrams were extremely similar to Waymo's top secrets and that many key features were consistent …… these secrets belonged to more than 14,000 files downloaded by Lewandowski. ”
On February 23, 2017, Waymo filed a lawsuit against the federal court, claiming that Lewandowski had carried almost invaluable information when he left. The lawsuit demanded a loss of 1.85 billion and required Lewandowski to use Waymo's private information at Uber, Ottomotto or any other autonomous driving company. Waymo cannot say that Lewandowski violated the non-competition agreement because it would directly lead to the failure of the lawsuit because his employment contract included an arbitration clause. Therefore, Waymo sued Uber and Ottomotto from a new perspective, using the federal regulations just passed. Waymo said Lewandowski had stolen trade secrets.
Google: Business betrayal is risky!
There is one in the US intellectual property law: If you are willing to publicly describe the details of the new invention and provide accurate information, and others can copy your invention accordingly, the government will give you a patent to guarantee you for a while. The invention can be monopolized internally. “ Patent and copyright law will deliberately <; leak & rsquo; details. & rdquo; "Yale Legal Daily" said. The government allows you to make money through your hard work while ensuring that others can learn your findings.
But what if a company doesn't want to share after discovering it? In this case, if the company wants to guarantee the confidentiality of intellectual property rights, the court can regard it as “trade secrets” and prohibit employees from bringing them to any new jobs. Each state has its own trade secret law, but the risk of relying on trade secrets is very high, in part because in most cases judges or juries have almost no technical background and cannot judge what information can be used as a trade secret, so If the court makes a judgment against you, then there is no way to stop others from stealing your ideas.
Almost anything can be claimed as a trade secret: manufacturing technology, recipes, organizational processes, and so on. In fact, trade secrets are difficult to define clearly. Does the knowledge in our mind belong to ourselves or to our former employer? If you know that a test does not produce useful results, then in a new job, do you have to repeat this failed test to prevent the original boss from telling you to stole the "failed experience"? If the trade secret law is enforced too strictly, it will greatly hinder the mobility of employees and eliminate the Brown movement that causes knowledge flow.
Large technology companies often file lawsuits on patents, but generally avoid trade secrets, because trade secret disputes can easily destroy their reputation. “The lawsuit that steals trade secrets needs to consider ethical issues. ” A technology attorney Michael A. Jacobs, who has worked with Uber and other Silicon Valley companies, said. A few decades ago, Jacobs sued a technology company for patent infringement, when he did not have the full grasp to win the lawsuit. Then one night, Jacobs stacked the customer's chip blueprint on the defendant's blueprint and found that the lines perfectly overlap. The defendant previously worked for Jacobs's clients, and it was clear that he copied the boss's drawings and used them as the basis for his own design. Jacobs said, “Because it was a copy, we found their weaknesses. This evidence provides the possibility of a trade secret lawsuit. & rdquo; The defendant immediately agreed to reconcile because he was afraid of being cast aside.
In recent years, cases of trade secrets have become more common, and a large part of the reason is the change in federal law. In 1996, in order to prevent transnational theft of US intellectual property rights, Congress passed the economic espionage law, making it easier to prosecute trade secrets. In 2016, Congress passed the Trade Secret Protection Act and prohibited employees who were sued for commercial secrets from working in a competitor's company. It’s this rare law that Google used to sue Lewandowski.
Orly Lobel, a professor at the University of San Diego, told me that federal law represents “a huge range of trade secrets”. She added that the law tends to “big companies, because only big companies have money and resources to sue, and now they can think that if they can win the lawsuit, they can send you to jail. ”
One of the reasons people worry that big companies in Silicon Valley will abuse this federal law is that big companies can use disgraceful means to stop employees from finding new jobs. In the mid-2000s, some big technology companies had a secret “No Corner” agreement, and Google and Apple were particularly prominent in this regard. In 2005, after Jobs saw a recruiter approaching Apple employees, he told Google executives, “Just hire this person is a declaration of war. "In the near future, Jobs received an email saying that Google's CEO assured him that he would "stop completely hacking from Apple". The government's antitrust lawyers have sued Google, Apple and several other technology companies, arguing that their collusion “seriously affected the competition” and illegally curbed employee jobs. These companies eventually settled with the government, and by 2015 they paid a total of $400 million to quell related civil litigation.
However, this law was passed in 2016 and the technology giants do not need a secret agreement. They only need to intimidate their employees. If they leave, they may be sent to federal courts in the name of leaking trade secrets. Since the entry into force of the bill, the number of trade secret cases in federal courts has suddenly increased. More than 1,100 cases were submitted last year alone, most of which were large companies suing employees who had moved to other US companies. California has more cases than other states.
One of the biggest impacts of the new bill is the cultural change between federal prosecutors. Instead of waiting for the suspect's clear evidence, they begin to encourage the company to initiate or cooperate with a trade secret investigation immediately after the suspect is discovered. Federal prosecutors in computer hackers and intellectual property departments in California are now frequently speaking at technology conferences, urging participants to submit evidence as soon as possible after discovering a trade secret leak so that the relevant authorities can draft an indictment.
From a historical perspective, Silicon Valley companies hate the invitation of federal prosecutors. Companies like Google and Apple usually ask the government to sign a search warrant, court court or subpoena before submitting internal data. In 2013, Google's lead attorney, David Drummond, wrote on the company's blog, “We asked government officials to use a search warrant to conduct search investigations to ask us to provide search and privacy content that users have saved in their Google accounts. ”Google even filed a lawsuit against the government’s request to provide child pornography.
However, Silicon Valley executives who suspect former employees are more willing to work with federal officials. Federal lawyers have told me that technology companies are now often approaching law enforcement agencies to initiate criminal investigations to investigate employee turnover. Lobel said: “Large trade secret cases tell people to be careful when resigning, even if there is no competition, you are at risk because they can sue you for knowledge in your head. & rdquo;She added, & ldquo; I think this is why Google sued Lewandowski. They want to convey a message that they want to make betrayal more risky. ”
Two years of knowledge litigation & ldquo; soap case”
Waymo L.L.C vs. Uber Technologies, Inc.'s case opened on February 5, 2018. A jury of 129 lawyers submitted 100,000 pages of defenses, motions, testimonies and other instruments, and the various documents piled up so that the judge had to remind him that knocking down the file box would hurt people. The lawyers on both sides told me that in order to prepare for the lawsuit, both parties spent tens of millions of dollars.
The months of public debate are not like an orderly trial, more like a soap opera. Lewandowski refused to discuss the case with the reporter, but subtly attracted the headlines of the major media: he built a church called "The Road to the Future", dedicated to "the basis of artificial intelligence" Realize, accept and worship God. He claims that the machine will eventually surpass humanity, and that the believers in his church will be prepared for the upcoming transformation, intellectually and spiritually. Some people think that the purpose of this church non-profit organization is to protect Lewandowski's wealth, but he assured reporters that he is good. He told me, "I don't believe in God, but I believe that what we are creating, from our cognitive point of view, is our God. ”
At the same time, in the court, the two sides will be arguing over who will testify and testify for a long time, and even when they should suspend the toilet. The trial itself was postponed, once because a former Uber employee claimed in a letter that Uber had a secret department dedicated to snooping on competitors' secrets, including Waymo. (After Uber agreed to pay $4.5 million to the former employee in the name of the consulting fee, the employee denied the allegation.) Both parties divulged the media with unspeakable details. Even Lewandowski's nanny played a small role in this soap opera. She claimed that Anthony emotionally abused her and demanded millions of dollars in compensation. (However, her lawsuit was eventually rejected because she did not have any valid evidence and contained many fatal errors.)
Judge William Alsup quickly got tired of these messy things. He announced in court, "Although these lawyers are excellent, I can't believe what they say." ”The documents presented to him contain "some of the facts that are hidden in half" and "inaccurate opinions". Apparently, Alsup believes that something sinister has happened, which makes Lewandowski resign from Waymo in a “suspicious situation” and “more than 14,000 documents stolen” may contain at least some business. Confidential”. He also said, "It can be more credible to imagine that Lewandowski's means of searching for the Waymo treasure house did not take advantage of the intent of these downloaded things. “Alsup is also not sure if the evidence submitted by Waymo can prove that information is being used illegally. He told Waymo's lawyer, "If you can't prove that Uber has acquired these trade secrets, you may have a big problem." ”
The fact that Lewandowski downloaded more than 14,000 documents did not seem as serious as originally thought. The server he is connected to is set to automatically transfer files, so it is not uncommon to download so many files. Moreover, everyone thinks that the "treasure" of this document is not important, because Google keeps it on a server outside the company. Before the trial, a Google engineer said in the evaluation of these downloads, "These downloads will not alert me." & rdquo; (But later he said as a witness to Waymo, these behaviors may be suspicious in the case of Lewandowski's forthcoming resignation.)
Waymo originally claimed that Lewandowski had stolen 121 trade secrets to Uber, and Uber infringed a number of patents. However, the judge considered some assertions “useless” and concluded that Waymo “over-proclaimed ownership of engineering principles that were too general”. “In a nutshell, Waymo believes that even the knowledge of optical entry is a trade secret. & rdquo; He said. As the date of the court approached, Waymo's requirements became less and less, in part because the company wanted to close the case as soon as possible. After the jury’s choice was made, Lewandowski and Uber faced only eight trade secrets and all patent infringement allegations were revoked.
Almost everyone in the court agrees that Lewandowski is an extremely troublesome person, and even his new employer has given up on him. A Uber lawyer told the jury, “Uber regretted shortly after recruiting Lewandowski. If it weren't for Anthony · Lewandowski, Uber would not be used to fight this lawsuit. & rdquo; Uber fired him shortly after receiving the lawsuit. The only person who said Lewandowski’s good words was himself, but he did not say a word in court. He exercised the Fifth Amendment to give him the right to ban self-certification and refused to answer any questions raised by the lawyer. He refused to confirm the ownership of the outside company and did not repeat his conversations with any executives. Alsup even gave a special reference to the US Attorney's Office, suggesting that federal agencies investigate whether Lewandowski is guilty of any crime.
As the trial unfolded, the wooden benches filled with journalists and lawyers in the courts often needed to be emptied so that witnesses could provide secret testimony. After all, if trade secrets are made public in open courts, then it is not a secret. But for a long time, even the most unprofessional spectators can smell some details. One of Waymo's trade secrets is how the diodes are placed on the board, another secret is related to the location of the screw holes used to screw, and one is the position of the lens. Some of the trade secrets do seem to help autopilots identify the surrounding environment, but the other part seems less important. On the second day after the trial, Alsup told Waymo's legal team, “What you want to hide doesn't seem to be worth hiding. ”
One of the jurors in the jury is a real estate manager who doesn't speak English. There is also a telephone line maintenance staff with only high school education. They spend most of their time being bored and sometimes falling asleep. They need to check the electronic circuit diagram of a LIDAR device (a device that determines the distance of the object by laser pulses) to determine if the technology of the device contains the common sense of the engineers.
A juror told me after the trial: "I don't understand what they are doing at all." I want the verdict of the murder, but I got this. ”
Over time, Waymo's core view —— whether Lewandowski has stolen valuable secrets and handed it to Uber—— has also become weaker. Waymo's lawsuit relied on proof that Uber's co-founders Travis Kalanick and Uber executives had colluded with Lewandowski when he hired Lewandowski. Kalanick is a good target because he has made too many mistakes —— yelling at drivers, encouraging workers to violate safety rules, ignoring employee sexual harassment reports, etc., so Uber fired him. Waymo's lawyer, Charles Verhoeven, promised in his opening statement that he would prove that Kalanick had told his assistants to say "we have to find the cheat code". Verhoeven went on to say, & ldquo; I was old and didn't know what the cheat code was. But I know that when you are playing a game, the cheat code is something that allows you to skip some of the necessary steps to get to the next step. So, this is equivalent to saying that Uber's CEO is saying, & lsquo;We want to use Lewandowski to find these cheat codes. & rsquo; In their own words, in the written document, Kalanick said he would use Lewandowski to skip Google. ”
But when Kalanick stood in court, he didn't act like a bad guy, more like a diligent translator, helping outdated lawyers understand how children speak. He explained, “The word cheat code in the tech industry means an elegant solution that no one has ever come up with. ”
Waymo's lawyer asked: "Mr. Kalanick, I think I have read the news. You have played a lot of games recently. Is this true? ”
“ I like the game on the iPhone. & rdquo; Kalanick said.
“ In the context of the game, do you know what the cheat code means? ” The lawyer asked.
“I know, but the cheat codes in the game are deliberately put into the game and are part of the fun of the game. & rdquo; Kalanick replied.
& nbsp;Cheat codes allow you to skip what you have to do to move to the next stage, right? ” The lawyer asked.
“ No. & rdquo; Kalanick replied, then fell silent. The jury began to whisper, and they felt that the court became a battle in online forums. A juror, apparently a gamer, seems to be holding a gamepad in his hand, talking to someone next to him about Nintendo's classic cheat code: "Up and down ……”
“ I have no problem. ” Waymo's lawyer said. Kalanick left the witness stand, and the old father he had been watching gave him a hug. “ I am proud of you. ” his father whispered to him when he walked out of court.
A Uber lawyer told me: “From that moment I know that we will not have something. ”
Reconciliation between the two parties
Before the trial began, Waymo demanded $1.85 billion in damages. But now, faced with the possibility of losing the case, the senior officials gathered together. A lawyer from Waymo told me, “If we lose, then the court may disclose our records, and the trade secrets we say will fall into the public domain. ” Waymo senior officials instructed lawyers to settle.
The next morning, Waymo's lawyer told the judge that the company was willing to withdraw the lawsuit in exchange for a 0.33% stake in Uber, worth about $250 million. Neither side needs to admit mistakes, Uber promises not to use Waymo's hardware —— of course, Uber said at the outset that they have never used it, so this promise is actually very easy. For a company with a market value of more than 70 billion, the sacrifice of a small number of shares is also a slap in the face.
However, the retreat of Waymo in civil litigation does not mean that executives have exhausted all legal means. They also launched a secret trial against Lewandowski, claiming to withdraw the $1.2 billion in prize money. The case is still pending. Moreover, another wave of attacks has begun. An assistant prosecutor named Matt Parrella found Waymo and Google saying that if the company could help, he would be willing to conduct a criminal investigation against Lewandowski.
Soon, Parrella and his colleagues got confidential information that Waymo had no intention of showing to the relevant departments and the public. A lawyer who understands the US prosecutor's investigations said that it seems that “Google didn't want to assist with criminal investigations at first, but after they lost in court, they became active. In fact, it is difficult to convict a trade secret without the full assistance of the victim. Without detailed guidance, the federal government does not know where to start. & rdquo; (The US Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case.)
Instead of claiming on the website, Google requires a government official to have a search warrant to conduct a criminal investigation, and instead allows federal investigators to view the secret testimony of Waymo employees and access their internal computer records. In some cases, Waymo's lawyers even tell the US Attorney's Office which documents to call, so that companies can give private information to the government without formal cooperation. A former Google executive told me, “I’m very disappointed to see Google’s move from an open-minded company to a terrible, self-serving group that is now working with the government. ”
A federal official in charge of a trade secret investigation said that Silicon Valley companies are "most in the face of cooperation with prosecutors". “They want to maintain a good image in front of the public, but in private they will say ‘嗨, we accept the summons, we will even help you write the summons. & rsquo;” Moreover, unlike civil litigation, the federal prosecutor’s charges against Lewandowski do not require evidence that he steals and gives Uber. The official said, “If I stole your wallet, it would be a crime if I didn’t spend a penny. ”
Lawyers working for the government say that some trade secret inspections help fight theft. Earlier today, federal prosecutors successfully sued a Chinese wind power manufacturer called Sinovel because they stole the trade secrets of a US company, causing the latter to lose billions of dollars. But the case like Lewandowski does not exactly indicate who was stolen or who was hurt, so it is difficult to say that US business is being damaged. However, Parrella and his colleagues encouraged Google and Waymo to continue to assist in the investigation of the case. Insiders say they are not sure whether the authorities will file a complaint, but if Lewandowski is arrested, it will be the most famous commercial stealing crime in Silicon Valley history. “Nothing is more deterrent than commercial theft.” “This federal official said, “It will sound a wake-up call for all Silicon Valley people. ”
But the echo of the alarm will also interfere with the motivation that initially pushed Silicon Valley to success. Daniel Olmos, a lawyer who specializes in technology indicted for theft of secrets, said, “This kind of case doesn't require too much to stop employee mobility, and one or two high-case cases are enough. "He continued," I often received calls from frightened engineers who put the company's stuff on a personal computer and took it home, but now they are worried about whether they will be sued after the job. And you can't think of it, their fears are correct. If a company is serious about your digital history, you can certainly find evidence of a lawsuit, such as a USB flash drive inserted into your computer, or an email sent to yourself. Therefore, the best way is to not pick up the caller's phone. ”
Some people who left Waymo told me that they had received a threatening email from Waymo warning them of the danger of technology stealing and that Waymo would sue them when necessary. A former Waymo employee is now working at another company, and he says the intimidation tactics are very effective: “We negotiated well and never did anything that might compete with Waymo. I think they are terrible when they stare at you. ”
Lewandowski: I am not a bad person.
In fact, even though the crime investigation and arbitration against Lewandowski was inconclusive, Waymo and Google also won in many ways. “Google’s people got what they wanted,” said a lawyer representing Uber. “They fired Anthony, distracting Uber’s attention and delaying its progress throughout the year, and letting everyone know that if you took their stuff, they would ruin you, and everyone knows You are the bane. ”
Although Uber is still developing autonomous vehicles, many of the employees who joined Ottomotto at the time have resigned. At the same time, Waymo's self-driving car technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and their cars have traveled more than eight million miles. In Arizona, the company also launched a commercial autonomous driving service that competes with Uber. Recently, after a refusal to hear, members of Congress criticized "Laughter" Larry · Page is still the number one figure in the Google Empire, and his worth is about $50 billion. (Page refused to be interviewed on this article.)
Google co-founder and current CEO of Larry Larry · Page (left)
In a statement, Waymo stated that the reason for suing Uber was “to protect the hard work of hundreds of engineers, we cannot ignore it”. Regarding Judge Alsup's request to the federal authorities to investigate Lewandowski's actions, the statement stated that “we know the weight of the allegations and the evidence we collect. & rdquo; Waymo also said, "Our lawsuit is not a hasty decision. Waymo and Google have been supporting new attempts by employees and former employees. "Although the Uber settlement has only reached a small fraction of the initial requirements of 1.85 billion, "we have achieved the most important goal, which is to protect our technology from illegal use." “Waymo refused to answer the question of cooperation with the US Attorney's Office, and refused to disclose the company's policy of providing information to the relevant departments, but said “If there is a legal process, we will comply with the law and in this matter” No exception. Waymo's engagement with the US Attorney's Office has nothing to do with Waymo's civil action against Uber. ”
Lewandowski lost his job after being expelled from Uber, but it is difficult for everyone to sympathize with him. He is still very rich. When he left Google, he took away what everyone thought he shouldn't take, even though everyone had different opinions about the value of these things. Lewandowski seems to abandon his team members at any time and betray at any time, and he just makes money for himself. He is a clever mercenary, a keen opportunist, a person without any loyalty. He created the technology to change the world, and then squeezed the value of it as much as possible for himself. In other words, he is the standard of Silicon Valley ethics.
Lewandowski felt very angry that others regarded him as a bad person. “I don’t admit that I did anything unethical. & rdquo; He said, & ldquo; As to whether I am competing with them? That must be true. & rdquo; But he added, "But I am not a thief, I have not lied." & rdquo; When he sent his children to school, other parents would avoid him when he saw him. He was tired of being photographed by passers-by while passing by the airport. But he believes that his bad name will eventually calm down. Although he no longer has the technology he brought from Google to Uber, a lot of valuable information is still in his mind, and he has many new ideas. An investment fund has recently begun accepting his proposal: a new self-driving truck company. He predicted that there will be some funds from overseas, including some Chinese investors. Ironically, the original purpose of the Federal Trade Secrets Act was to prevent intellectual property from flowing overseas, and as a result, commercial secret inspections forced Lewandowski to join forces overseas. But he has no pressure on his own, and he only cares about the next move. It seems that everything has a solution, even with a disgraceful past.
After the civil litigation settlement, he told me: "The only thing that deserves my concern is the future. I don't know what it is for us to study history. Of course, history is interesting, what dinosaurs, Neanderthals, industrial revolutions, and so on. But we have no need to care about what has happened. You don't need to know what they have done in history. In the technology industry, the only thing that matters is tomorrow. ”
Related Links:Https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/did-uber-steal-googles-intellectual-propertyThe translator meniscus, and Guo Rui is responsible.