Tesla just took a major shot at Uber's purchase of Otto


Elon Musk

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk talks at the Automotive World News Congress at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, January 13, 2015.

Tesla threw some shade at Uber in a lawsuit it filed Thursday.

The lawsuit itself actually has nothing to do with Uber. In the suit, Tesla accused its former Autopilot director Sterling Anderson of taking company data to use for a competing self-driving-car company, Aurora Innovation. The lawsuit also names Chris Urmson, the former tech lead of Google's self-driving-car unit, as a defendant, calling him Sterling's business partner at Aurora.

But while detailing Anderson's motive for starting the company, Tesla took a shot at both Uber and General Motors. After establishing Tesla Autopilot as a leader in the self-driving-car space, the lawsuit reads:


"In their zeal to play catch-up, traditional automakers have created a get-rich-quick environment. Small teams of programmers with little more than demoware have been bought for as much as a billion dollars. Cruise Automation, a 40-person firm, was purchased by General Motors in July 2016 for nearly $ 1 billion. In August 2016, Uber acquired Otto, another self-driving startup that had been founded only seven months earlier, in a deal worth more than $680 million."

Tesla's lawsuit alleges that Anderson and Urmson started the company knowing their credentials might make it an attractive candidate for an acquisition by a major company - even if their product doesn't warrant it.

Uber and GM both declined to comment for this story.

Anthony Levandowski, a co-founder of Google's self-driving-car unit, left the tech giant to start Otto, a self-driving truck startup. Uber acquired Otto for $680 million in stock with the agreement it would give the startup 20% of its trucking profits in August of last year, Recode reported.


GM reportedly dropped a ton of money on Cruise Automation, paying more than $1 billion, in cash and stock combined, in March of last year. Before being bought by GM, Cruise Automation was a self-driving-car startup based in San Francisco that was founded in 2013.

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