The early days of the Google Self-Driving Car Project were not that long ago — only 7 years ago, at the beginning of the decade. But that was before the self-driving car goldrush, back when Uber was only operating a limousine service, and before Lyft even existed. A lot can change in 7 years.
The New Yorker goes back to the early days to investigate, in particular, Anthony Levandowski’s days at Google. Levandowski earned $120 million from his time at Uber, but The New Yorker reports that his time was replete with controversy.
“Hiring could take months,” Levandowski told me. “There was a program called WorkforceLogic, and just getting people into the system was super-complicated. And so, one day, I put ads on Craigslist looking for drivers, and basically hired anyone who seemed competent, and then paid them out of my own pocket. It became known as AnthonyforceLogic.” Around this time, Levandowski went to an auto dealership and bought more than a hundred cars. One of his managers from that period told me, “When we got his expense report, it was equal to something like all the travel expenses of every other Google employee in his division combined. The accountants were, like, ‘What the hell?’ But Larry said, ‘Pay it,’ and so we did. Larry wanted people who could ignore obstacles and could show everyone that you could do something that seemed impossible if you looked for work-arounds.”