Vanguard Logistics Services sued former Uber executive Fraser Robinson for allegedly stealing trade secrets and launching a logistics start-up named Beacon, which raised money from two tech titans, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt
Vanguard is a California-based logistics and shipping company with intimate ties in Uber Freight, a spinoff brand launched by Uber. Robinson led Uber’s business in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East from 2014-2018.
According to the lawsuit, Robinson allegedly sought and built a relationship with Vanguard using Uber Freight. He then used that relationship to steal Vanguard’s proprietary information and then establish his own business, Beacon.
In late 2017, Robinson stepped down from Uber along with a handful of other executives following a data breach and claims of a toxic culture. However, it is unknown if Robinson is directly tied to these complaints.
Robinson’s company Beacon is a digital freight forwarding platform that successfully raised $15 million in capital from Bezos and Schmidt’s venture capital firm 8VC as well as from former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
Another former Uber employee named Dmitri Izmailov, the co-founder of Beacon is also implicated in the lawsuit. Izmailov allegedly assisted Robinson in stealing Vanguard’s trade secrets following his departure from Uber’s Russian division.
Vanguard says Fraser Robinson betrayed its trust in him
In a statement, a spokesperson for Vanguard Logistics said, We trusted Fraser Robinson as a director and fiduciary of the company, this included legal stipulations around non-disclosures and protection of Vanguard’s IP, and he betrayed that trust.”
“It is fitting that Fraser Robinson launched a company founded on fraud and named it Beacon, a word that describes a warning signal. Anybody doing business with him should certainly beware, the spokesperson added.
Beacon called Vnguard’s lawsuit an “ill-thought-out action”
Beacon fired back against the lawsuit, saying that it is “surprised to hear that Vanguard has filed these proceedings.” The company called it an “ill-thought-out action, which is entirely without merit and which has been brought in the wrong jurisdiction.”
In 2017-2018, Uber was implicated in a similar case, in which the ride-sharing company allegedly conspired with Anthony Levandowski, a former employee at Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet (NASDAQ GOOG, GOOGL) that specializes in self-driving tech. Levandowski headed Uber’s self-driving car division after leaving Waymo.
Earlier this year, Levandowski pleaded guilty to one count of stealing trade secrets. Uber ended up giving Waymo $245 million in company shares.
It is important to note that a lawsuit does not presume guilt or innocence. All guilty parties must be convicted in a court of law by a jury of their peers.
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