I’ve posted an article to LinkedIn about the shifting sands of trade secrets and human intellectual capital, here.
While I’m not taking a direct position in the matter, it does raise a very interesting problem that will continue to plague us.
Uber has been sued by Google subsidiary Waymo over allegations related to theft of trade secrets. The case stems from Uber’s acquisition of AI startup Otto.
Otto was founded by Anthony Levandowski after he left Waymo. Waymo believes that Levandowski took trade secrets when he left Waymo to form his own company, and thus when Uber purchased Otto, Uber ended up with Waymo’s trade secrets.
Uber paid $700 million for Otto. Ford invested $1 billion in Argo AI last year. These acquisitions appear to be largely due to the fact that there is a dearth of talent in the AI/self-driving-car industry and the costs of retaining talent.
What I find interesting is whether the value of these acquisitions is really about the underlying technology, or the human resources. Check out the article!