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Anthony Levandowski is a former Google engineer who made millions of dollars working on self-driving car technology. He later founded his own autonomous trucking startup, which was eventually acquired by Uber for $680 million. However, Levandowski’s fortunes took a turn for the worse after he became embroiled in a high-profile legal battle with Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which ultimately led to his bankruptcy.
Early Career and Success at Google
Anthony Levandowski began his career as an engineer at 3Com, before moving on to work for various tech companies, including PDA-maker Palm and mapping company 510 Systems. In 2007, Levandowski was recruited by Google to work on the company’s self-driving car project, which later became Waymo.
At Google, Levandowski became known for his expertise in Lidar technology, which is used to help self-driving cars “see” the world around them. He played a key role in developing Google’s self-driving car technology and was named as one of the co-inventors on several patents related to the project.
Founding of Otto and Acquisition by Uber
In 2016, Levandowski founded his own self-driving trucking startup called Otto, which aimed to disrupt the trucking industry with autonomous technology. Just a few months later, Uber announced that it had acquired Otto for $680 million in stock and cash, with Levandowski joining the ride-hailing company to lead its self-driving car efforts.
Legal Battles with Waymo and Alphabet
However, Levandowski’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in 2017, when Waymo, the self-driving car division of Alphabet, filed a lawsuit against Uber, alleging that Levandowski had stolen trade secrets from the company and brought them with him to Otto and Uber. Waymo claimed that Levandowski had downloaded over 14,000 confidential files from the company before leaving to start his own company.
The legal battle between Waymo and Uber was closely watched by the tech industry, and it ultimately led to Levandowski being fired from Uber and Uber settling with Waymo for $245 million. Levandowski was also indicted on 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets, and he eventually pleaded guilty to one count of trade secret theft in 2020.
Bankruptcy and Current Financial Situation
In addition to his legal troubles, Levandowski’s net worth has also taken a hit. He was ordered to pay $179 million in damages to Waymo, which bankrupted him and his autonomous trucking startup, Pronto. Levandowski filed for bankruptcy in 2019, and his remaining assets were sold off to pay creditors.
As of 2021, Levandowski’s net worth is estimated to be negative, due to his legal expenses and the damages he owes to Waymo. However, despite his legal and financial setbacks, Levandowski remains a controversial figure in the tech industry and continues to be involved in autonomous vehicle development.
The rise and fall of Anthony Levandowski’s net worth is a cautionary tale about the risks of entrepreneurship and the importance of ethical behavior in the tech industry. While Levandowski’s early success at Google and the acquisition of his startup by Uber made him a millionaire, his involvement in the high-profile legal battle with Alphabet ultimately led to his bankruptcy and negative net worth.