The Hustle

Anthony Levandowski was indicted after all, and now his startup may be in trouble

Embattled AV entrepreneur Anthony Levandowski was charged with trade secret theft, and now the future of his startup Pronot.ai is uncertain.


August 30, 2019

Photo: ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the bumbling bad boy of the self-driving car industry, Anthony Levandowski, was charged with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from his former employer, Google.

Back up a second — what happened?

Here’s a timeline of how A-Lev got here. He: 

  1. Developed automated vehicles at Google’s Waymo (2008-2016)
  2. Left to start his own AV company, Otto (2016)
  3. Joined Uber when it acquired Otto for $600m (2016) 
  4. Got sued by Waymo, accused of stealing trade secrets (2017)
  5. Was cleared of civil charges when Google settled with Uber (2018)
  6. Launched a new AV company, Pronto.ai (2018)
  7. Was arrested again on criminal charges (2019, this week)

So, now what?

Pronto.ai, which is less than 2 years old, wrote in a statement that Levandowski’s charges had to do only with lidar, and not with Pronto.ai’s technology — which, it insists, is far newer and more groundbreaking. 

But, if Levandowski is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and $250k per charge — and without Levandowski at the wheel, the company could end its drive early.

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