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Uber fires exec at center of self-driving car lawsuit


Uber has fired self-driving car executive Anthony Levandowski, amid a legal battle with Alphabet's Waymo unit over alleged trade secret theft, according to an internal email obtained by the New York Times and confirmed to Axios by the company. Levandowski, who left Waymo more than a year ago and whose self-driving truck startup (Otto) was eventually acquired by Uber, has refused to hand over files he allegedly stole, instead asserting his Fifth Amendment rights.

Context: Uber last week told Levandowski that he could be terminated if he declines to cooperate with the court's orders. According to an Uber spokesperson, he failed to meet Uber's deadline to comply. Eric Meyhofer, who took over some of Levandowski's duties in April, will fully replace him.

Why it matters: Firing Levandowski is likely the last thing Uber wanted to do. Not only is he a rare expert in autonomous driving technology, but Uber effectively paid $680 million to hire him when it acquired Otto.

Lauren Meier 44 mins ago
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Facebook's growing problems

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Facebook is caught in the middle of a rapidly unfolding scandal over Cambridge Analytica's improper gathering of data on millions of users, and what that exposed about the company's data collection. The fiasco has drawn the interest of lawmakers and regulators and rekindled the debate over its role in the 2016 presidential election.

Why it matters: The bad headlines continued to pile up; "A hurricane flattens Facebook" said Wired, "Silicon Valley insiders think that Facebook will never be the same" per Vanity Fair, "Facebook is facing its biggest test ever — and its lack of leadership could sink the company" from CNBC, and — as we've yet to hear from the company's top leaders — "Where is Mark Zuckerberg?" asks Recode.

Dave Lawler 7 hours ago
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What Trump and Putin did and didn't discuss

President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin this afternoon, and congratulated him on winning re-election on Sunday. After the call, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked whether Trump felt the election had been free and fair, and said it wasn’t up to the U.S. to “dictate" how Russia holds elections.

The bottom line: Trump is not alone in congratulating Putin — leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere have done so this week, as Barack Obama did in 2012. But past administrations certainly have seen it as America’s role to call balls and strikes when it comes to elections abroad, and weigh in when democratic institutions are being undermined. A departure from that approach would be welcomed not only by Putin, but other leaders of pseudo democracies around the world.