If you’re interested in big tech or have been keeping an eye on self-driving cars in the news, no doubt you’ve heard of Anthony Levandowski. This French-American engineer has been one of the biggest players in self-driving automobile technology. He’s also done major development work independently and working with Google and Uber.
Levandowski has also founded numerous companies and sold many successfully for multiple millions of dollars. He has also commanded a massive salary in the past.
So, you’d expect this tech wizard to have a pretty impressive net worth. But what is the Anthony Levandowski net worth figure, and is it as much as you might expect?
Let’s find out.
Anthony Levandowski’s Net Worth Estimated
Due to incredible big deals with tech giants Google and Uber, Anthony Levandowski’s net worth was once estimated at between $50 and 100 million. However, at present, things have completely changed.
While he had a very impressive bank account in the past, I’m afraid to tell you that it’s pretty much all gone. In 2019, he was forced to file for bankruptcy, essentially dialing his net worth down to a big, fat zero.
If you share an interest in self-driving cars, much like Anthony Levandowski, I recommend checking out the book titled:
But that’s not the end of it…
If you thought being bankrupt was bad, try this on for size. In February 2022, Uber and Google agreed on tech issues we’ll talk about in a minute. This agreement also required Levandowski to pay Google between $25 and $30 million. Plus, a 2020 criminal conviction forced him to pay over $750,000 to Google’s Waymo project, plus a fine of $95,000.
So, that puts the net worth of Anthony Levandowski at somewhere between -$26 and -$31 million. Yes, that’s right. At present, Levandowski has a negative net worth, and a pretty serious one at that. So, next time you’re worried about your finances, you can at least look at his and hopefully not feel so bad.
Anthony Levandowski’s Business History
How did things end up this way for a once very promising young engineer? It turns out that Anthony Levandowski’s career has been quite the rollercoaster ride. Some incredible highs, some confusing loop-de-loops, and some pretty severe lows as well.
This engineer got his start at U of C Berkley and began designing robots even as an undergraduate. He joined a team in 2003 to compete in the prestigious 2004 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Grand Challenge. They built a self-driving motorcycle for the competition, and the experience led Levandowski to a lifelong interest in self-driving automobiles.
In 2006, he worked on a street mapping project called VueTool. This team was hired by Google X to create Google Street View, a feature of Google Maps that the public has been enjoying ever since. This tech used lidar (light detection and ranging) technology to measure distances from objects, and mounted their system on a Toyota Prius that was designed to be self-driving.
But even before Street View came out, Levandowski created his PriBot, the first car to drive independently on American roads. His company, Anthony’s Robots, developed this driverless car independently and gave the first test drive on blocked-off streets.
Although it suffered a minor scrape, it was proof that the driverless car concept could work. Google bought Anthony’s Robot and 510 Systems, Anthony Levandowski’s companies, in 2011 for roughly $20 million.
Even before Google bought these companies…
They had already been employing Levandowski to work on driverless cars. So, it seems pretty strange that they’d let him independently develop his PriBot and then sell them the company he created to make it. But I guess Google just has tons of money.
The project that Levandowski worked on at Google was formerly called Chauffeur and the Google Self-Driving Car Project. Its name was changed to Waymo in 2016, and was developed as its own company. Before the name change, Google had already spent over a billion dollars developing self-driving car technology.
Otto and Uber
Levandowski left the project that same year and started up Otto, a driverless car company, with partner Lior Ron. Otto attracted a team of engineers from Google, including Levandowski, leaving the tech behemoth to join the new company. It was later alleged that Levandowski did more than lure employees away – he is also said to have copied files from Google’s servers.
The goal of Otto was to design driverless trucks – big rigs that could drive on highways and deliver goods across the country without the need for drivers. This attracted the interest of Uber, already in the food and people delivery service.
By the end of 2016, Uber had bought Otto for what was reported as $680 million worth of their shares. However, it was later found that this might have cost them only $220 million (only!) since over half the shares went to Levandowski and were not vested before he was fired.
Yes, Levandowski was fired by Uber. At first, he became the leader of their driverless car project. But, in 2017, Google made allegations that he had stolen their research, and this caused Uber to fire him from the project. In 2018, the project was shut down entirely after the death of a pedestrian caused by a driverless car.
After he was fired by Uber, Anthony Levandowski didn’t give up on his pet project and go off to live on his millions somewhere tropical. Instead, he continued with his passion, investing over $8 million into a new project – Pronto AI.
This new project focused on an artificial intelligence-based driving system for delivery trucks. This would make them driverless but in a different way. He also founded Pollen, a company that has created an open-source wifi network that helped vehicles navigate. Levandowski took a break from these companies in 2020 to fight a legal battle and is now back as CEO.
Anthony Levandowski’s Legal Issues
The main legal issue that Anthony Levandowski has had to deal with in the past few years stems from his exit from Google’s Waymo project.
After leaving to start Otto…
And, bringing 11 other Google employees along with him, Google also accused him of stealing their files. In particular, they alleged that he downloaded multiple files relating to the company’s research into lidar systems which are primarily used to help driverless cars navigate.
In 2017, when Otto was already a subsidiary of Uber, Google sued Uber for stealing trade secrets. Although they didn’t sue him directly, Levandowski was at the center of the lawsuit for allegedly copying the files. He claimed that the Otto project was developed from scratch and offered historical files to prove it.
Uber was meant to protect Levandowski…
But, the company says that he refused to comply with their internal investigation. He also refused to testify, pleading the 5th. For this reason, Uber threw him under the bus. He was ordered by the court to pay Google over $179 million. However, he didn’t have this much money and was forced to declare bankruptcy.
At the time, his net worth was estimated at $50-100 million. But, he also had debt of somewhere between $100-$500 million. By declaring bankruptcy, the Anthony Levandowski net worth number was essentially reduced to zero.
Criminal charges were also filed against Levandowski in 2019…
For theft of trade secrets from Google. He was charged with 33 counts but eventually pled guilty to just one of these, and the other 32 were dismissed. This plea means that Anthony Levandowski admitted to stealing trade secrets from Google’s Waymo project.
He was ordered to pay Google over $756,000 and also had to pay a fine of $95,000. Not only that, but he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Levandowski went to prison in 2020, but he was in luck. President Donald Trump granted him a pardon in January 2021, so he ended up only serving around six months of his sentence.
After his release, Levandowski still wasn’t off the hook…
Levandowski, Uber, and Google worked out a new settlement in 2022, and Uber agreed to pay most of the $179 million owed to Google. However, Levandowski is still supposed to pay them back somewhere between $25-$30 million.
He has gone back to Pronto and Pollen, continuing work on his project to make trucks self-driving and focusing on the crypto-mining market. So, the past few years have been seriously downhill for this once-superstar engineering whiz.
But the fact that he is running two companies and has Google’s trust to pay them back tens of millions of dollars suggests that we haven’t heard anything even close to the last of Anthony Levandowski.
Personal Life and Family
Anthony Levandowski was born on the 15th of March 1980, making him 43 years old in 2023. Even though he was born in Brussels, Belgium, his father is American, and his mother is French. As a result, he claims dual French-American citizenship.
The family moved to California in the 1990s, where Anthony finished secondary school before enrolling in Berkeley. In addition to his many professional endeavors, Levandowski is also a family man. He has two children with his partner, Stefanie Olsen.
Levandowski applied to the University of California at Berkeley and was accepted there. He studied three different programs at the same institution.
First, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research in 2002. From 2002-2003, he studied at the Haas Business School, also at Berkeley. And in 2003, he also earned his Master’s Degree, also in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.
While a student…
Levandowski kept himself busy as an entrepreneur. He founded his own IT service company called La Raison (French for “the reason”), which earned him a handsome annual income. With another student, he also started a company to create a portable blueprint reader to be used in construction and engineering jobs.
Anthony has always had a very strong interest in robotics…
His initial dive into building robots began in 1999. He used Lego to build a robot for the Sun Microsoft robot contest. His robot could sort Monopoly money and was called the BillSortBot.
Later, in 2003, he joined a team of Berkeley engineering students to compete in the DARPA Grand Challenge. While other teams struggled to get their 4-wheeled vehicles to navigate a track, this team built a self-piloting motorcycle that was highly successful.
Levandowski was inspired to focus on a motorcycle after being overtaken on the highway by a group of riders – he saw how graceful they were compared to his car. This self-balancing, self-navigating vehicle was called the GhostRider and is now in the Smithsonian Museum. However, it was the beginning of his career in self-driving vehicles that continues to this day.
One little-known fact about Anthony Levandowski is that he once filed to incorporate a religion. In 2015, amidst a troubled work situation at Google and plans to go independent, Levandowski also created an official religion in the State of California. He filed papers to incorporate a ‘church’ called the Way of the Future with himself as the CEO.
This religion was based on Levandowski’s obsession with robots and the idea of the singularity. That’s a point in time when artificial intelligence would eclipse human intelligence and start to take over the world. The idea behind his religion is that God is an AI and that humans should learn to accept and worship it.
This religious idea didn’t seem to catch on. It never gained a following or a practice and was simply an idea on paper coming from a wealthy intellectual.
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Anthony Levandowski Net Worth Revealed
For years, the name Anthony Levandowski was all over the news, printed in the same lines as the term “self-driving cars.” If you’ve followed his career, you know that he has made big money starting up companies and selling them off to massive tech firms like Google and Uber. But, at one point, this backfired.
Levandowski had made hundreds of millions of dollars with his engineering and entrepreneurial work. However, he was forced to declare bankruptcy when Google sued him for stealing their secret documents. After a short stint in prison, a pardon, and a new agreement, he still owes Google about $25+ million.
Until next time, may you find your success story.
What is the controversy surrounding Anthony Levandowski?
Anthony Levandowski was accused of stealing trade secrets from Google’s self-driving car project and using them to start his own company, Otto, which was later acquired by Uber. The legal battle between Google and Uber lasted for years and ended with Uber settling for $245 million.
What is Anthony Levandowski’s role in the development of self-driving cars?
Levandowski was one of the key engineers in the development of self-driving cars. He worked on Google’s self-driving car project and helped develop Waymo, Google’s self-driving car spinoff.
What is Anthony Levandowski’s most significant contribution to the self-driving car industry?
Levandowski’s most significant contribution to the self-driving car industry was his work on Lidar, a technology that uses lasers to create high-resolution maps of the surrounding environment. This technology is key to the development of self-driving cars.
What is Lidar, and why is it important for self-driving cars?
Lidar is a technology that uses lasers to create detailed three-dimensional maps of the surrounding environment. This information is then used by self-driving cars to navigate and avoid obstacles. Lidar is considered one of the most important technologies for the development of self-driving cars.
What is Google’s self-driving car project?
Google’s self-driving car project, later renamed Waymo, was a research project focused on developing autonomous driving technology. The project began in 2009 and has since become one of the leaders in the self-driving car industry.
What is Otto, and how is it related to Anthony Levandowski?
Otto was a startup founded by Anthony Levandowski in 2016. The company focused on developing self-driving trucks and was later acquired by Uber for $680 million. However, Levandowski was accused of stealing trade secrets from Google during his time at the company.
What is the impact of self-driving cars on society?
Self-driving cars have the potential to transform society in numerous ways. They could make transportation safer and more efficient, reduce traffic congestion, and decrease the number of accidents caused by human error. However, there are also concerns about job loss, privacy, and the potential for hacking.
What is the future of self-driving cars?
The future of self-driving cars is uncertain, but many experts believe that autonomous vehicles will become a more common sight on the roads over the next few decades. However, there are still many technological, regulatory, and societal challenges that need to be overcome before self-driving cars become a mainstream mode of transportation.
What is the role of government in regulating self-driving cars?
Governments have an important role to play in regulating self-driving cars. They need to create laws and regulations that ensure safety, protect privacy, and ensure that the technology is used for the benefit of society as a whole. However, there is also a risk that overregulation could stifle innovation and slow down the development of the technology.
What companies are leading the development of self-driving cars?
There are several companies leading the development of self-driving cars, including Waymo, Tesla, Uber, and General Motors. However, there are also many smaller startups and research groups working on the technology.
What are the biggest technological challenges facing self-driving cars?
There are several technological challenges facing self-driving cars, including developing reliable and accurate sensors, improving machine learning and decision-making algorithms, and ensuring the safety and security of the technology.
What is the impact of self-driving cars on jobs?
Self-driving cars have the potential to automate many jobs in the transportation sector, including truck drivers, taxi drivers, and delivery drivers. This could lead to significant job loss, particularly for low-skilled workers. However, self-driving cars could also create new jobs in areas such as engineering and software development.
What is the impact of self-driving cars on the environment?
Self-driving cars have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality by making transportation more efficient. However, there are also concerns that the widespread adoption of self-driving cars could lead to an increase in vehicle miles traveled and have other unintended consequences.
What is the role of AI in self-driving cars?
AI, or artificial intelligence, plays a crucial role in self-driving cars. It is used to process and analyze data from sensors, make real-time decisions about how the car should drive, and learn from its experiences to improve its performance over time.
What is the future of transportation?
The future of transportation is likely to be a mix of different modes, including self-driving cars, public transportation, and active transportation such as cycling and walking. The goal will be to create a more sustainable, efficient, and equitable transportation system that meets the needs of people and communities.
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