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Travis Kalanick's wish list included a "pound of flesh": Waymo trial

Uber-Waymo trial
Uber-Waymo trial 02:36

Uber's former CEO Travis Kalanick took the stand Tuesday in the second day of the Waymo-Uber trial that centers on the alleged theft of self-driving car technology. 

During his testimony, Waymo attorney's showed Kalanick notes from a meeting held late 2015 with members of Uber's self-driving project. Those notes included a wish list that read: "source, all of their data, Tagging, road map, pound of flesh, IP."

"Did you tell the group that what you wanted was a pound of flesh?" the attorney asked. 

"I don't know specifically," Kalanick responded. "It's a term I use from time to time."

Kalanick is one of the most high-profile executives to speak at what is already one of the most-watched tech lawsuits in years. Alphabet's self-driving division, Waymo, sued Uber last year, accusing the ride-hailing company of stealing trade secrets to use for its own self-driving car program. Waymo wants Uber to pay more than $2 billion in damages. It also is asking the court to halt Uber's self-driving program.

During opening testimony Monday, Waymo lawyer Charles Verhoeven described Uber as a cutthroat company that would do anything to win, including stealing from competitors and breaking the law. He also alleged that Uber's former star engineer, Anthony Levandowski, stole about 14,000 files from Waymo before he quit that company in 2016 to form his own self-driving truck startup, Ottomotto, which Uber later acquired. 

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Levandowski has a long history of working on self-driving cars. He joined Google as a software engineer in 2007 and helped pioneer the tech giant's self-driving-car project. Much of his work revolved around Lidar, or "light detection and ranging," one of the main technologies used in both Waymo and Uber's self-driving cars. The laser technology lets the vehicles "see" their surroundings and detect traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists and other obstacles. 

Waymo must prove that Uber not only got its hands on the 14,000 files, but also that it used them to develop its own project. 

On Tuesday, Kalanick testified that he began talks with Levandowski in 2015. He said Levandowski was "very adamant about starting a company and we were very adamant about hiring him." 

"I wanted to hire Anthony [Levandowski] and he wanted to start a company," Kalanick said. "I tried to come up with a situation where he'd feel like he started a company, and I'd feel like I hired him." Kalanick said he wanted the code name for buying Levandowski's company to be "Project Dollar Sign." 

A Waymo attorney also asked Uber's former CEO about a "jam session" with Levandowski, when Kalanick had written on a whiteboard: "laser is the sauce." Kalanick in the session called lasers "an important part of making autonomous working. It doesn't work without it." 

Earlier Tuesday, John Bares -- head of Uber's self-driving program -- testified that Kalanick wanted to hire Levandowski despite potential legal issues. He said Kalanick typically would leave it to Uber's legal team to figure out the best way to handle any issues after the fact. 

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