When it comes to Uber and its tough-talking founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick, the word “greed” just keeps coming up.
News stories used “greed” in their headlines to describe many of Uber’s decisions under his reign, like taking investment money from Saudia Arabia, a country that outlawed women from driving; or firing up Uber’s high-cost vehicle leasing program (expected to be shuttered soon); or the lawsuit filed against Uber by Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
The key engineer at the center of that lawsuit, Anthony Levandowski, once even joked that Kalanick should pull a Gordon Gecko, referring to the infamous character from the 1987 movie “Wall Street.”
In a text from March, 2016, publicly released thanks to that trial, Levandowski told Kalanick, “Here’s the speech you need to give ;-) http://youtu.be/VVxYOQS6ggk“
That’s a link to Gekko’s famous “Greed is Good” speech in which he passionately declared:
“Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. … The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”
Meanwhile, on a hearing on Wednesday, Judge Alsup, who is overseeing the Waymo v. Uber case, warned Waymo’s lawyers that greed is not good.
Waymo is accusing Levandowski of stealing its self-driving car trade secrets and taking them to Uber.
As lawyers from each side debated the potential damages at stake, Waymo tried to add more trade secrets to its list of allegedly stolen items.
Alsup was having none of that. He told the lawyers, “You can’t have everything. We can push this out another couple of years and they will have cars on the street because you’re being greedy,” as reported by Forbes’ Biz Carson.
Greed wasn’t good for Levandowski, either. Uber fired him in May over this lawsuit and if Uber doesn’t win the case in court and vindicate him, his name will remain infamous in the Valley.
Please remember, too, that by the end of the movie, Gekko was sentenced to prison for insider trading and securities fraud.
All the same, here’s the speech that Levandowski jokingly encouraged Kalanick to give.