Tesla is suing the former head of its Autopilot system program, Sterling Anderson, for his alleged attempts to recruit active Tesla engineers for his new venture while still working at the company, according to recent reports.
Anderson was, until early January, the non-technical program manager of Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system. The lawsuit alleges that employment offers were made to at least a dozen fellow Tesla employees while he was still working for the company — despite the non-soliciting agreement in his contract.
The new venture, Aurora Innovation, was recently founded by Anderson along with the former head of Alphabet’s/Google’s self-driving program, Chris Urmson. Urmson left the Alphabet/Google X project last August, after 7½ years of work.
Reuters provides more:
“The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of California for Santa Clara County, underscores the competitive landscape in Silicon Valley’s automotive sector, where Tesla, established carmakers and unknown start-ups are all battling to be first to bring self-driving to the masses.
“Telsa, citing what it called a ‘get-rich-quick environment’ in the sector, listed in the complaint the recent acquisition by General Motors of Cruise Automation in July for nearly $1 billion, suggesting Anderson and Urmson sought the same goal with their new Silicon Valley company, Aurora Innovation.
“Urmson and Aurora Innovation are also named as co-defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract and other civil claims. Tesla is seeking injunctive relief and unspecified damages.”
Unsurprisingly, Aurora Innovation claims that the lawsuit is frivolous and that it “reveals both a startling paranoia and an unhealthy fear of competition.”
Interestingly, the lawsuit also alleges that Anderson downloaded “some of Tesla’s most competitively sensitive information” to his laptop computer and then subsequently erased and doctored files as well as wiped his iPhone of data “in an attempt to conceal his misdeeds.”
The tech industry seems to be getting nastier by the year, doesn’t it? At this rate, it’ll be on par with the medical or oil industries in no time (if it’s not already). …