In considered one of his ultimate acts as President, Donald Trump early on Wednesday morning instantly pardoned the engineer on the heart of an iconic, litigious, and years-long battle between Uber, Google, and federal prosecutors over the expertise for self-driving vehicles.
Inspired by a few of his highest-profile backers in Silicon Valley, resembling enterprise capitalist Peter Thiel, Trump issued the shock full pardon to Anthony Levandowski, a former Google govt who had decamped to work for Uber. Levandowski was final 12 months sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading responsible to stealing commerce secrets and techniques from Google that he then used to assist Uber within the self-driving race.
The announcement got here as a shock for a number of causes: One was that the information that Levandowski was looking for a pardon had not beforehand been reported. One other was that it was yet one more twist in a authorized saga that went on for years — along with the federal conviction, Google’s self-driving arm, Waymo, at one level sued Uber in a messy authorized case earlier than reaching a settlement. Lastly, the pondering was, the matter was mainly resolved.
And the ultimate purpose making the information so stunning was the forged of characters that the White Home stated pushed for Levandowski’s full pardon. Along with Thiel — who was as soon as Trump’s most outstanding backer in Silicon Valley — Levandowski’s supporters in his pardon quest included Palmer Luckey, the founding father of the virtual-reality firm Oculus and a serious Trump marketing campaign donor; Michael Ovitz, the legendary founding father of the Hollywood expertise large CAA; and different traders and executives tied to Thiel, resembling considered one of his prime aides, Blake Masters.
“Mr. Levandowski is an American entrepreneur who led Google’s efforts to create self-driving technology. Mr. Levandowski pled guilty to a single criminal count arising from civil litigation,” the White Home stated in its assertion. “Notably, his sentencing judge called him a “brilliant, groundbreaking engineer that our country needs.” Mr. Levandowski has paid a major price for his actions and plans to dedicate his skills to advance the general public good.”