Lyft sues COO who went to Uber: Alleges Travis VanderZanden stole confidential documents.

Former Lyft COO—Who Now Works at Uber—May Have Stolen Confidential Documents

Former Lyft COO—Who Now Works at Uber—May Have Stolen Confidential Documents

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 6 2014 5:19 PM

Lyft Sues Former COO for Stealing Confidential Documents

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The ride-sharing wars continue.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Lyft thinks it's found the Benedict Arnold of its ride-sharing war with Uber. On Wednesday, Lyft filed suit against Travis VanderZanden, its former chief operating officer and the current vice president of international growth for Uber, for stealing confidential internal documents. The suit alleges that VanderZanden resisted turning in his company computer after his employment ended, took numerous steps "to transfer Lyft information to his personal files in anticipation of his resignation," and "breached his Confidentiality Agreement" in multiple ways.

According to the lawsuit, forensic computer evidence shows that in the "months and days" before leaving Lyft, VanderZanden synced his personal Dropbox account to his Lyft laptop and "systematically uploaded confidential and proprietary Lyft documents" to it. The suit also alleges that VanderZanden backed up his work emails and contacts to his personal computer and iPhone. The forensic computer report found that VanderZanden used his Lyft computer to search "how to archive in google apps" and "how to backup google apps email," and also wrote "Backup Lyft Email and Contacts" on an Evernote list of tasks to complete after he resigned.

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The complaint says that VanderZanden has repeatedly refused to sign Lyft's termination certification—which asks him to verify that he no longer possesses or will use confidential Lyft information—and that both he and Uber have repeatedly ignored requests to return proprietary Lyft information. Instead of turning over his phone for Lyft to check, VanderZanden allegedly sold the device on gadget trade-in site Gazelle shortly after he resigned. "An odd thing for a high-net worth individual to do, it was likely to cover his tracks and dispose of evidence of his misdeeds," the suit speculates. According to the filling, Uber's counsel has maintained that VanderZanden does not possess any confidential Lyft information and has not done so since leaving the company back in August.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lyft is asking for VanderZanden to return all confidential and proprietary information and submit his personal devices to the court for examination, as well as for various awards in damages. In the meantime, other tech employees looking to copy and back up confidential company information might want to consider not Googling how to do those things from their work computers.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.