Lyft sues former COO over stolen documents

Faith Merino · November 5, 2014 · Short URL:

Former Lyft COO allegedly stole files while planning his move to Uber

Welp. If you were craving another Lyft/Uber scandal to round out your Wednesday night, you're in luck. Lyft is suing its former COO Travis VanderZanden for allegedly stealing sensitive company documents in the days leading up to his resignation in August. This would be the same Lyft COO who then went on to join Uber last month. Sooo, slow clap for VanderZanden and his massive, massive balls. Allegedly.

VanderZanden joined the Lyft team back in 2013, when the company acquired the mobile carwash startup, Cherry. Soon thereafter, he moved into the role of COO, but all was not well in Lyft paradise. VanderZanden left the company last summer due to rumored tensions between himself and Lyft’s founders.

In the complaint, Lyft claims that VanderZanden told the founders of his plans to step down on August 12. All three agreed to discuss the matter more fully on August 15, but VanderZanden cancelled the meeting and suggested they speak on the matter after the weekend. But a forensic analysis of the laptop that VanderZanden returned to the company upon his departure found that over the course of that weekend, he backed up several sensitive emails and documents to his personal computer and phone. The documents included strategic plans, product offerings, marketing plans, forecasts, customer lists, financial information, and more.

Here’s the clincher: VanderZanden was already in talks with Uber at this point. He had informed a Lyft board member that he was talking with Uber, and just weeks after his resignation, he was installed as Uber’s new VP of International Growth.

Damn, man. Just, damn.

The forensic analysis found that VanderZanden’s personal Dropbox account contained more than 98,000 files and folders from Lyft. But as Lyft’s COO, he had access to the company’s shared Dropbox account, so there was no legitimate business-related reason why he would need to transfer those documents to his personal account.

So Lyft is accusing VanderZanden of violating the Confidentiality Agreement that he signed upon joining the company, which bars him from possessing or disclosing confidential Lyft information. Interestingly, the company says that he has also ignored Lyft’s repeated requests that he sign a Termination Certification verifying that he no longer possesses and will not use proprietary Lyft information.

Uber’s counsel insists that VanderZanden “has no Lyft proprietary information in his possession—not now, not when he started at Uber, and not since he left Lyft.”

Lyft has asked VanderZanden to turn over his phone to prove that he doesn’t have Lyft documents on it, but he sold his iPhone soon after his departure from Lyft.

Lyft is seeking to have the confidential documents returned and to be destroyed from VanderZanden’s personal devices.

In the meantime, the very public and ugly Lyft/Uber wars rage on… 


Lyft Sues Former COO

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